Monday, 12/6/10

LAT 2:36
NYT 2:33
CS 5:29 (Evad)
BEQ 6:15

Richard Chisholm’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 1“Shh! Shh! Not so loud!” Each of the six theme entries in today’s puzzle is a compound word or two-word term in which both parts start with SH. SHIPSHAPE is an adjective, SHORT-SHEET is a prankster’s verb, and the other four are nouns. SHARPSHOOTER, SHELL SHOCK, and SHOESHINE are all common enough, but SHEEP SHEARER? I guess that’s a thing, but it’s nowhere near in the same familiarity stratum as the other five theme answers.

The fill is fairly standard Monday-caliber stuff, though the inclusion of SMART MONEY, PART III, a HARD HAT, and “TELL ME MORE” elevates the game. Right there at 1-Across is a lively answer that doesn’t get much play in crosswords: CAJUN. Nobody’s thrilled to see fill like HRH, CIR, ASCH, ESE, or AN ERA, but the crossings were reasonable and the clues pegged to Monday level so it shouldn’t be too hard for the solver to work around those.

Updated Monday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Hag Gag”—Evad’s review

cs126 Ah, I quipped recently that we hadn’t had many quips of late, and here is another right on its heels! Let’s see if this one justifies the form as competently as the one from a couple of weeks ago.

This one seems to have missed its publication date by a couple of months:

IF HER BROOM STOPS
TOO SUDDENLY
A WITCH MIGHT
FLY OFF THE HANDLE

Not sure I find this as funny as the “dam” joke from the prior quip; but at least it does obey Newton’s first law of motion which states that “an object in motion will remain in motion as long as there is no force acting against it.”
(Now, the friction of the witch’s dress against the presumably wooden pole of the broom is a force that opposes her motion “off the handle,” but I assume the inertia of the speed necessary to remain aloft would easily counteract this.)

Certainly a sure-fire way to kill a gag is analyze the physics of it, so let’s quickly move on to the surrounding fill:

  • I’ve heard of CHIA Pets, but never knew that chia was a plant. (Actually, I thought the “plant” was alfalfa or bean sprouts.)
  • The Czech composer SMETANA is a bit of a challenge; is his The Bartered Bride opera one of his more famous pieces? I read here that it’s also the name of a crème fraîche-like dairy product, which can be up to 30% milkfat. Ouch!
  • I think the constructor missed some more amusing ways to clue SHOESTRING (“It’s fit to be tied”). “Like some budgets” or “Type of fries” takes the entry less literally.

Donna “Lucky Number Slevin” S. Levin’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 22This theme’s on solid footing: The theme entries all end with synonyms with that connotation. We’ve got four nouns, so kudos for the consistency. There’s a NEWSPAPER STAND (rather than, say, a verb phrase like TAKING A STAND), AIR FORCE BASE, CHILD SUPPORT, and the FORD FOUNDATION.

Five more clues:

  • 1a. [Try to obtain sensitive info using an Internet scam] clues PHISH. Remember when the band Phish was famous? Are they still around?
  • 56a. [Liberate from the hitching post] is a lively clue for UNTIE.
  • 4d. [Braggarts] are SHOW-OFFS. Great entry.
  • 29d. [Like some seals] clues EARED. Meh. You know what else is EARED? Nearly all humans, dogs, cats, etc. What I don’t know is if the EARED seal looks markedly different from an uneared seal. Big floppy ears would be awesome.
  • 38d. LIPLINER is [Pencil for one's kisser].

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

Region capture 21-Across made me grumpy. METRO PCS has, I think, zero presence in the Chicago area. Never heard of it. I figured the Cockney at 5-down, “fart,” was “ARSE  and cart” (crossing METRA PCS), but of course that makes much less sense than ‘ORSE and cart.

Favorite answers:

  • X-RAY SPEX, “…aaaaAND SCENE,” MIX TAPE, KOOL-AID, WE’LL SEE, and SEXPOTS.

Grossest answer:

  • EAR PICK.

Favorite clue:

  • 6d. [Like some soon-to-be monarchs] clues PUPAL. Were you thinking about Prince William and getting confused when P*PAL looked like PAPAL? I sure was.

Really? That’s a word? So it is:

  • 3d. TOADISH, clued with reference to Dolores Umbridge, a villain in J.K. Rowling’s fictional universe. Toadyish is obsequious, whereas toadish means contemptible.

Fill in the “blech” category:

  • IROC and ESTO (clued as a word in Missouri’s motto) cut the puzzle into two halves that have nothing as “blech” as the short middle row.
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10 Responses to Monday, 12/6/10

  1. Meem says:

    Three easy puzzles. Only write over was lipstick before lipliner in LAT. Glad for quick puzzle time as today is devoted to wrapping and shipping.

  2. Howard B says:

    Nice Times today. First time ever under 2 minutes in the Times app, even for my awkward typing, so it seemed like a very smooth solve and theme here :).

  3. harris says:

    Groan. Patrick, you don’t anchor at a pier, you tie up. You anchor away from a pier, in an anchorage or a mooring field.

  4. joon says:

    yup, i thought the times was easy, too. impressive theme density, and i blazed through the acrosses so easily that the iffy down fill didn’t even register. thumbs up overall, due to the theme and the great long downs.

  5. Lex says:

    Maybe a more interesting clue for EARED could’ve been: [Like sea lions, but not true seals].

    The animals most people typically think of as seals are the family Phocidae, or “true seals.” They have short stubby flippers and are “earless,” which means they have ear holes (pinnae) but no external flaps or lobes.

    Sea lions and fur seals, on the other hand, are in the family Otariidae, or (as the Latin name suggests) “eared seals.” They have longer flippers, and external ear flaps over their pinnae.

    Seals versus Sea Lions

  6. Dolores Umbridge was indeed a contemptible character, but I recall from Rowling’s texts (I haven’t seen the movies) that her TOADISH nature was physical as well as moral.

  7. joon says:

    i had the appearance in mind when i suggested that clue to brendan, but the personality fits too.

  8. pannonica says:

    Lex, if you’re going to be a taxonomy stickler, be sure not to refer to a scientific name as a “Latin name,” which is a crude misnomer.

    Also, the pinnae are in fact the external parts of the ear and not the holes.

    Aside from their pinnae (not to be confused with “pinnipeds” the unrelated term (although it shares the Latin root meaning wing or feather) including phocids and otariids), the most notable feature of otariids is their ability to rotate their hind limbs forward so that they can get around more easily and efficiently on land; phocids must drag themselves along with only their forelimbs. In conjunction with this adaptation, otariids developed a much more flexible vertebral column.

  9. Lex says:

    Hi pannonica,

    Thanks for your response. I’m not a biologist (as you can tell), and I apologize if I might have seemed to be holding myself out as more of an expert or “stickler” than I am, which wasn’t my intent. I do enjoy learning about the subject (as a layperson) and wanted to share some interesting info, but apparently I was in such a fog yesterday afternoon that I didn’t do a very good job!

    “Latin name” was indeed careless, and it actually bothered me almost as soon as I’d closed my browser and walked out of the room. Pinnae, another where I should have known better, though this one I didn’t even notice I’d messed up until you pointed it out.

    I appreciate the corrections and additional info. Thanks! :)

  10. pannonica says:

    You’re welcome, Lex, and I in turn apologize if I came across as a little testy. Held my tongue about something here last week, vowing to take the high road, and think I suffered internally a bit for my noble-minded, well-intentioned effort. It was something less cut-and-dried and belaboring some points would have made me look “trollish.” That’s why I leapt at the opportunity.

    (hmm… Looks as if there’s still some residual discontent, judging by the preceding passive-aggressive passage.)

Comments are closed.