Monday, 3/7/11

[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/06" plug="monday-3711" puzz="BEQ" anchor="bq"]4:57[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/06" plug="monday-3711" puzz="LAT" anchor="la"]2:48[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/06" plug="monday-3711" puzz="NYT" anchor="ny"]2:38[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/06" plug="monday-3711" puzz="CS" anchor="cs"]5:09 (Evad)[/time_hdr]

Mike Torch’s New York Times crossword

3/7/11 NYT crossword solution 0307

I’m torn. Racked with indecision. I just don’t know what makes sense any more. Can you relate?

The theme entries are four famous quandaries (split among seven answer spaces):

  • 17a, 61a. As the Clash song plaintively yet rockingly asks, SHOULD I STAY / OR SHOULD I GO? If I stay, there will be trouble. If I go, it will be double. See? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
  • 23a, 54a. The old Clairol hair-dye ads asked you to figure out DOES SHE OR/ DOESN’T SHE color her hair? I would love to see the Viagra folks adapt this approach in their ads.
  • 37a. And in the middle, no less torn for his single-answer presentation, is Hamlet with his classic TO BE OR NOT TO BE.
  • 12d, 46d. DEAL OR / NO DEAL, the horrible Howie Mandel game show that makes me want people with no grasp of probabilities to lose painfully and not be rewarded for risky decision making,

Terrific, fresh Monday theme. If you are looking at the puzzle thinking that you shouldn’t have to know the Clash song because it’s too recent, note that it came out 30 years ago. If you’re wondering why you have to know an old ad slogan and an old song, I have no real defense for the importance of knowing Clairol’s ad history, but “Should I Stay or Should I Go” is rightfully a classic song in the rock canon. Hamlet, of course, we should all know. And if you never watch TV and don’t know the game show, well, I can’t help you. There’s plenty of TV stuff in crosswords and it’s fair game for the rest of us.

Highlights:

  • 40d. A good, inescapable, throbbing BASS LINE is an asset to many a song.
  • 6d. I like “SO I SEE.”

Lowlights:

  • ETUIS and ORT lead the way for the Crosswordese Brigade, and the Abbreviation Army weighs in with ESTH, TUE, REG, AUS, and more.

Updated Monday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Ball Bearing”—Evad’s review

CrosSynergy 3/7 crossword answers

What do we have here, a puzzle dedicated to famous male actors? Ummm, no. It’s four theme phrases where the “ball” is found split between two words:

     

  • [Without racial prejudice] is COLOR BLIND. Speaking of males, did you know that 7% of us in the US can’t distinguish red from green, but only 0.4% of women suffer from this same deficiency. One of my favorite authors, Oliver Sachs writes often on this topic.
  • Have you heard of the 1905 play MAJOR BARBARA? The only Rex Harrison movie based on a George Bernard Shaw play that I know is My Fair Lady based on Pygmalion.
  • Something I’ve spent a lot of time standing by recently is a [Baggage claim contraption] or CONVEYOR BELT. In Miami, it took more than an hour to get our bags, and that’s after arriving an hour later than we should have, at 11pm. Long night!
  • Fun clue, [Fuzz-busting tool?] for RAZOR BLADE. I was thinking of radar detectors.
  •  

     

Not sure we needed the spoiler entry ORB at the bottom, but it’s nice to be found in the final across entry. I also enjoyed uncovering MIX ‘N’ MATCH, BOOZE, VELCRO and rapper JAY-Z in the fill. Patrick also weighs in on the TOMATO debate, affirming it a fruit often thought of as a vegetable. I think this has something to do with its seeds, but there are plenty of vegetables with seeds (cucumbers come to mind), so it’s got to be more than that. Botanists, weigh in in the comments!

Scott Atkinson’s Los Angeles Times crossword

3/7/11 LA Times crossword answers

The theme entries are four similarly constructed phrases in the “blanky-blank” mode:

  • 17a. RINKY-DINK
  • 53a. LUCKY DUCK
  • 10d. HACKY SACK
  • 33d. HONKY-TONK

Light, suitable for Mondays.

I do like the inclusion of so many 7- and 8-letter answers in the fill, but they come at a cost—lots of partials (and a lot of one-word things that are practically partials because they have no life apart from their fill-in-the-blank action) and abbreviations. Really. SPCA, TO AN, ETD, EES, the bizarre HDS ([Coin flip call: Abbr.]), RFK, HEE, PCP, I BE, ALKA, KAT, RST, OCT, MDSE, FEELY, PDAS, PPP, LBS. Those things are all over the grid, when you don’t want more than a handful of them in a single puzzle, and they lessen the positive impact of all the lovely long fill. Particularly nice (but not necessarily worth the tradeoff of icky little crossings) are ORTHODOX, WHISPER, SCULPTOR, ETHIOPIA, COUSTEAU, and REBUKES.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 312 solution

I suspect that 17a was one of Brendan’s seed entries, and…I have no idea what it means, other than what the clue tells me. Have never encountered the term ROOTS FOR LAUNDRY. [Supports the team, no matter who's on it]—what does that mean, you support the uniform? Well, duh, it’s often the city you’re rooting for, not the laundry. So I don’t get it. And I don’t understand the people who get excited about a team from a city where they’ve never lived.

Highlights:

  • CAT FANCY! Crossword people, I ask you, where is the Crossword Fancy magazine? Our market is ill-served.
  • Love the words SHREWD and BUGABOO.
  • SHRINKING VIOLET is great.
  • SETH MEYERS, full name, approved. (RAY LEWIS, full name, not approved.)
  • E.R. DOCTOR, fresh fill.
  • A baby goose is a GOSLING. I hit that word in the middle, so I filled in the SLING part and thought about actor Ryan Gosling and when the cursor jumped back to the start, I filled in RY. Yes, RYSLING.
  • Cluing REV. with reference to Reverend Run of Run DMC.

Minus:

  • If you’re going to have that ROOTS FOR LAUNDRY sprawled across the top of the grid, don’t have a derivate, ROOTLE, in the bottom.
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11 Responses to Monday, 3/7/11

  1. zanzibari says:

    I like the NYT theme too but the fill is a train wreck…

    ORT, ETUIS, TAE, ERAT, ESTH, TUE, ESAU, SLOES, LIRAS, A FAST, SEP, ON IT…this needed serious editing before publication.

  2. Aaron says:

    Agreed; also, I didn’t like all the running around trying to figure out where the clues matched up. The real question is, why these questions?

  3. Erik says:

    My fill time on the NYT was 2:38; then I spent 1:12 finding the T which I had senselessly thrown into “SAO PEDRO.” Grr.

  4. Gareth says:

    Loved that NYT theme. LAT was a good solid theme too, colourful phrases!

  5. Meem says:

    The confusion about whether the tomato is a fruit or a vegetable arises because scientists and cooks think differently. Scientifically, the tomato is a fruit because it “sets” from the base of the plant’s flower. As do apples, pears, peaches, etc. And scientifically cucumbers, zucchini, eggplants, and pumpkins are also fruits.

    When one moves tomatoes, cukes, et al into the kitchen they are generally used in savory dishes, not sweet ones. And cooks think of them as vegetables. Conversely, most cooks think of rhubarb as a fruit, but a scientist will tell you that rhubarb is a vegetable.

  6. John Papini says:

    Today’s NYT puzzle was nostalgic and fun, but a record number of gimmies, even for a Monday.

  7. Ladel says:

    Meem

    I spent a great deal of my early NYC public education wondering how things got to be the way they got to be. One day a wise teacher explained that many of the things got to be the way they are because we say so, i.e., a convention imposed by humans.

    All the rest we haven’t figured out.

  8. Tuning Spork says:

    Evad, a cucumber is also a fruit. ;-)

    EDIT TO ADD: Oops, sorry Meem. My scanning glasses need a rinsing, I guess.

  9. joon says:

    boy, i really liked the NYT puzzle. the fill was totally fine to me. as for “why these questions,” the simple answer is that they’re all of the form “[choice A] or [choice B, which is the negation of A].” that’s definitely tight enough for a theme. although the more i think about it, the less the clash really belongs. GO is an antonym of STAY, but not its direct negation like NO DEAL or NOT TO BE or DOESN’T SHE. hmm. anyway, it didn’t bother me when i was solving it.

    very curious LAT puzzle, with the extremely sectioned-off corners and wide open spaces. not what i was expecting on a monday, that’s for sure.

    i loved the BEQ. re: GOSLING, anybody remember the patrick berry (or maybe peter gordon) clue from the “color change” NYS puzzle? {It gets further down with time}. still one of my all-time faves.

  10. Plot says:

    It’s great to be back. For the past two months, I have been furiously trying to keep pace with the daily dose of crosswords; not an easy feat when one is trying to practice solving on paper but does not own a printer. It really sucked not being able to keep up with the rest of the community, but as the ACPT draws nearer, I can hopefully get more involved in the discussions.

    Today’s NYT reminded me of puzzle #1 at last year’s ACPT, what with both of them having somewhat-repetitive phrases. Anyone else get that vibe?

    As usual, the BEQ definitely MEASURES UP, and in some parts, it even exceeds my already high expectations. But, like Amy, I am confused about ROOTS FOR LAUNDRY. Even google couldn’t help me this time. Does anyone get this one?

  11. joon says:

    david, welcome back. ROOTS FOR LAUNDRY started as a seinfeld joke and has since taken on a life of its own in (some) sports writing.

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