Monday, 5/2/11

[time_hdr postdate="2011/05/01" plug="monday-5211" puzz="NYT" anchor="ny"]3:30 (pannonica)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/05/01" plug="monday-5211" puzz="LAT" anchor="la"]4:47 in nasty applet[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/05/01" plug="monday-5211" puzz="CS" anchor="cs"]5:15 (Sam)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/05/01" plug="monday-5211" puzz="BEQ" anchor="bq"]6:39[/time_hdr]

LA Times crossword applet for Monday’s puzzle here

Caleb Madison’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review

NYT crossword solution 5/2/11 0502

With seven solid theme entries, this puzzle can’t be accused of giving the solver short shrift. Each is a name or phrase ending in –IFT, so they all rhyme.

  • 17a. [Country-pop star with the 2008 six-time platinum album "Fearless"] is young phenom TAYLOR SWIFT.
  • 24a. [Vehicle moving items in a warehouse] is your FORKLIFT.
  • 36a. ["From Here to Eternity" Best Actor nominee] would be MONTGOMERY CLIFT, who to my perennial disappointment does not have a cleft chin.
  • 50a. [What a Don Juan thinks he is to women] is a slightly awkward clue, but gets you to the not-quite-standalone answer, GOD’S GIFT.
  • 58a. A SPENDTHRIFT is the [Opposite of a tightwad], although it sounds as if it should be a synonym.
  • 11d. [Road blocker after a winter storm] is a SNOWDRIFT. Coincidentally enough, drift fences seem to counteract them rather effectively.
  • 32d. When you DOWNSHIFT you’re making a transmission [Move to a lower gear].

A nice mix of names old and new, words mundane and slightly unusual. As it’s a Monday puzzle, the fill is typically smooth and keeps a cap on the CAP (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials). All right, perhaps there a few more partials than I’d like to see, but they’re all quite gettable and acceptable.

The sideways stacked nine-letters in the NE and SW—HIFALUTIN/SNOWDRIFT and DOWNSHIFT/(the iffy) ON SALE NOW—are pleasing. Plus, how can one not like the ii™ of Column 13: “hifalutin idiot”? Don’t you think Eris Torfold (Column 9) would be a nifty name?

My biggest quibble, and admittedly a minor one, is that it seems the clue for SHEEN at 54a could have been freshened up from [Charlie of "Two and Half Men"] in light of his recent adventures. Yes, I’m looking at you, Will Shortz.

So, a solid Monday puzzle. Six stars, but only because (disclosure) I received some not-insubstantial grift.

Updated Monday morning:

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “StoP!” – Sam Donaldson’s review

Today’s crossword takes four 15-letter expressions beginning with the letter “S” and changes the starting letter to “P.” Hence, the puzzle’s title, “StoP!,” is really three words: “S to P!” We’ve seen this exact gimmick before, but that doesn’t mean this puzzle should be dismissed out of hand. After all, remakes can sometimes be better than the original. See, e.g. , last year’s “True Grit” from the Coen brothers. Of course, the risk of a remake is the inevitable comparison with the original. I think today’s puzzle compares favorably, though it may not necessarily be better. Let’s start with the theme entries:

  • 17-Across: The [Place for cavorting horses?] is a PONY PLAYSTATION (from the “Sony PlayStation” video game console). At first I thought the theme was going to switch Ps and Ss, but I guess the thought of a “Pony Slaystation” would probably be a little too upsetting to many solvers.
  • 27-Across: The [Quarters for quiet dogs?] are POUNDS OF SILENCE (playing on “The Sound of Silence”). There seems to be a split of internet authority as to whether the song title is “The Sounds of Silence” or “The Sound of Silence” (plural vs. singular), so I’m not sure whether this entry is a stretch. But it fell pretty easily, so I’m guessing this is a nit few solvers would pick.
  • 43-Across: To [Get artistic with hearts?] is to PAINT VALENTINES. Hmm. There’s a Saint Valentine, and there’s Valentine’s Day. But I don’t think there’s a “Saint Valentines.” Here I feel the artistic license was taken a bit too far.
  • 55-Across: To be [Rung lovingly?] is to be PEALED WITH A KISS. I think the joke here is supposed to be along the lines of “Ding! Ding! Ding!” but the theme entry doesn’t really ring my bell.

I really like the long non-theme Across entries, THE TEMPEST and especially IT’S USELESS. The two Ks, two Vs and two Zs give the grid a rare-letter feel, and the stacked six-letter Down entries on each side allow for lots of natural light.

Notable notes to note:

  • EZRA had be clued as [Rock's Better Than ___] instead of as a reference to Ezra Pound because POUNDS were featured in a theme entry. The result is a more difficult clue, but I like it.
  • Just yesterday we saw both REESES and a variation of EASE IN, so it’s a little weird to see them close together in this grid.
  • For some reason I can never remember VELDT, the [African grassland]. I’m to embarrassed to admit all the other answers I tried before cracking this one.
  • [Red and Ross] had me thinking of people, but I should have been thinking geography: they’re both SEAS.
  • I don’t think this is a technical flaw, but UNSAID right next to UNBORN seems more uncool than unorthodox.

Robyn Weintraub’s Los Angeles Times crossword

5/2/11 LA Times crossword solution

Finally gave up on waiting for the .puz file to be posted at Cruciverb.com. (Sigh.) Solved the puzzle via the applet at latimes.com, and I don’t like that interface one bit. No skipping over filled squares, different keys for moving around the grid. Feh. Pretty sure the puzzle took me nearly twice as long because of the interface, because a Monday LAT puzzle is generally a super-easy thing that I plow through on auto-pilot.

Theme: Five phrases begin with the words in “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” from The Wizard of Oz, and for the heck of it, TOTO is thrown in as the final Across answer. (Much harder to put DOROTHY or THEWIZARDOFOZ in the bottom row.)

  • 17a. “FOLLOW ME!”
  • 25a. THE OSCARS, apt use of the definite article in a crossword answer.
  • 40a. The Beatles’ YELLOW SUBMARINE, supplemented below by OBLA-DI.
  • 52a. BRICK OVEN, a [Hot spot for pizza]. Some of the finest hot spots for pizza do in fact bake the pizzas in brick ovens.
  • 66a. ROAD SIGN.

Not in the mood to blog the surrounding fill and clues because of that pesky interface, but I like the BEANTOWN HAMSTERS and the FOOD COURT FLIP-CHART. Fairly smooth fill overall, though I could do without the “blah” of SETTEE and ERST.

Favorite crossing: INANE ANGST. Who among us has not suffered that? I think it’s what PMS sometimes brings on.

Updated Monday afternoon:

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 328 answers

Ehh. Love BOSSYPANTS, ADVIL PM, “GO GALT,” and the in-the-news-last-week THE CLOUD. Like I’VE GOT GAME but might like I GOT GAME better. Like the clue for SPECIALS: [They're often changed daily] at restaurants. Don’t quite get the clue for ADDICTS: [They live unfulfilled lives]. Don’t care for AS NEED BE, which I think wants to be either IF NEED BE or AS NEEDED. Like FAM, [Home bodies, for short]. Have never seen TWEEDLE as [Sing like a bird]; Tweedledum and Tweedledee, sure, but tweedle is a weird and uncommon word. Like learning of the existence of a [Danish rock band Oh No __] ONO; love it! Obscure, yes, but I think OH NO ONO would be a fun entry. Could do without Latin plural URSI, which has managed to avoid becoming crosswordese, so I suspect it’s a terrible entry. Lots of longer fill that’s good, certainly, but not exciting. I’m feeling three-starrish here, but Brendan, keep in mind that I’ve had a headache for the better part of two days and it could certainly color my experience of a crossword. Although is there really any justification for NEW BOAT??

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14 Responses to Monday, 5/2/11

  1. bob stigger says:

    I was just reading about a highly regarded basketball recruit named God’s Gift Achiuwa. I suppose that’s more of a late-week clue.

  2. Plot says:

    The MOTIF was unremarkable for me; I’m not usually a fan of rhyming themes. But individually, the theme entries were high-quality fill. So, I prefer to think of this puzzle as a 5-star easy themeless.

    My only other gripe is that now I can’t get that damn string interlude from “Love Song” out of my head. Really catchy.

  3. Gareth says:

    Simply defined themes always seem to work better on Mondays? The theme’s simplicity used in the cause of colourful entries plus the density and surprising smoothness of the surrounding puzzle (with the 5-star entries THECURE and ONSALENOW) made it a delight to solve!!

    PS, the NYT hyperlink is broken: you copied and pasted the address, but sunday was not changed to monday.

  4. pannonica says:

    Thanks, Gareth. Fixed the link. This is what happens when Amy lets me drive the blog unsupervised.

  5. Zulema says:

    Agree about SHEEN. Some people don’t deserve to be in the NYT puzzle.

  6. bob stigger says:

    I pulled out my vinyl collection (yes I still have the albums I bought in the 60s — too bad I didn’t leave them sealed). The album is called Sounds of Silence. The song is called The Sound of Silence. So the entry is an accurate play on the album title, not the song title. Bob

  7. Meem says:

    Pealed with a kiss is a play on “sealed with a kiss.” The SWAK written across the sealed flap of a love letter in the “olden days.”

    Did anyone else wonder if clever Caleb wanted us to include f-IFT-h as a theme entry?

  8. Paul says:

    @Sam – PEALEDWITHAKISS is clued by “RunG lovingly?”, not “Run lovingly”. It acutally makes sense that way.

  9. Sam Donaldson says:

    The CS post is corrected to fix the typo, but the rest, alas, was not a typo. Just a poorly phrased joke, I guess.

  10. jpdavidson says:

    Posted the LA Times .puz file at http://www.crosswordfiend.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=631 if you can’t stand the flash solver.

  11. jpdavidson says:

    I’ve posted the LA Times puzzle at http://www.crosswordfiend.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=631 for those who hate the flash solver.

  12. jpdavidson says:

    I’ve posted the LA Times puzzle in the Island of Lost Crosswords forum for those who hate the flash solver. Seems I can’t post a link here.

  13. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Here’s the link to jpdavidson’s post. Not sure why you couldn’t post a link; a multitude of links snares you in the spam filter but a single one should be fine.

  14. jpdavidson says:

    I think the link caused the comment to need to go through moderation, but there was no evidence that it had been submitted/rejected, so I thought it had bounced. In any event, they appear now.

Comments are closed.