Monday, 2/6/12

NYT 3:28 (pannonica) 
LAT 2:56 (Jeffrey -paper) 
CS 4:21 (Sam) 
Celebrity untimed 
BEQ untimed 

Tom Pepper’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review

NYT • 2/6/12 • Pepper • Mon • solution • 2612

Yet another NYT début. All systems are GO today. Five theme answers, all beginning with go and finishing with an adjective.

  • 17a. [Split a bill evenly with someone] GO HALFSIES.
  • 39a. [Flip out] GO CRAZY.
  • 62a. [Leave the drawers in the drawer, say] GO COMMANDO. Cute clue.
  • 11d. [Malfunction] GO HAYWIRE.
  • 35a. [Fail financially] GO BELLY-UP.

That’s it. Simple as that. A no-nonsense theme, executed well. Interestingly, all five themers are new to the NYT (XWord Info) database. Low CAP Quotient™ (crosswordese, abbrevs. partials), which is par for the early-week puzzles. Feels rather Scrabbly, despite the absence of a J or Q. Strikes a good contemporary balance, neither musty-fusty nor edgy-wedgie.

Just a few observations:

  • Most unexpected fill for a Monday: 25a ZLOTY, clued as [Ruble : Russia :: __ : Poland], and cross-referenced by 4d [The clue for 25-Across, e.g.] ANALOGY. Runner-up is AB OVO (2d).
  • In more dual-clue action, there are the consecutive 19a and 20a: [Throat clearer] AHEM and [Throat dangler] UVULA.
  • If this were a mid- or late-week puzzle, 60a RHINO wouldn’t be clued so explicitly and …erm… formally: [Safari animal, informally].

So, in sum, the puzzle was silky-smooth and flew by so quickly, there was no time—or need—to proclaim “HO-HUM” (3d).

Carl Esposito’s Los Angeles Times puzzle – Jeffrey’s review

Back so soon? Yes, I am.

The problem with living in the US is you miss all the Canadian commercials during the Super Bowl. Best were the Subway ad with a couple of guys eating at Subway and the FedEx commercial with a couple of guys saying that FedEx is great. And the big budget McDonalds commercial with three guys eating at McDonalds. That’s all I saw because curling then started on CBC so I switched as did all of Canada. Loved the bagpipes at halftime.

This could be a debut puzzle. If so, congratulations! If not, welcome back!

Theme: 1², 2², 3², 4²

Theme answers:

  • 16A. [*Start of a Jackie Gleason "Honeymooners" catchphrase] – ONE OF THESE DAYS
  • 29A. [*Vivaldi classic, with "The"] – FOUR SEASONS
  • 36A. [*Cat's blessing, so it's said] – NINE LIVES
  • 46A. [*Tennessee Ernie Ford hit about coal mining] – SIXTEEN TONS
  • 59A. [What the starred answers start with] – PERFECT SQUARES

Nice clue combo:

  • 11D. [Layered building material] – PLYWOOD
  • 12D. [Layered ristorante offering] – LASAGNA

Something you may not know:

  • 43D. [Company associated with the alcoholic "7" in a "7 and 7"] – SEAGRAM‘s Seven Crown Blended Whisky and 7-Up.

Lesson in all the ways to indicate abbreviations and other little non-words:

  • 1A. [PC screens] – CRTS
  • 9A. [Washer or dryer: Abbr.] – APPL
  • 14A. ["Deck the Halls" syllables] – FA LA
  • 15A. [Cuba, to Castro] – ISLA
  • 28A. [Space-saving abbr.] – ETC
  • 33A. [Pot-scrubbing brand] – SOS
  • 43A. ["The Racer's Edge"] – STP
  • 67A. [Hwy. accident respondents] – EMTS
  • 68A. [Managed care gps.] – HMOS
  • 10D. [Free TV ad] – PSA
  • 27D. [Suffix with psych] – OSIS
  • 30D. [Ivy League sch. in Philly] – U PENN
  • 36D. [NHL part: Abbr.] – NATL
  • 39D. [Followers: Suf.] – ISTS
  • 57D. [Jr.'s exam] – PSAT
  • 60D. [Cell "messenger," briefly] – RNA
  • 62D. [Fourths of gals.] – QTS

Not much to say about this. Fine theme, but all the abbreviations left me short. Too many imperfect squares. **1/2 stars.

Updated Monday morning:

Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “So What?” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, February 6

To call this puzzle “so-so” may be appropriate given its title, but I’d have to add one more word and change the punctuation–in my view it’s “so, so great.” Doug gives us four song titles, each with three words in the pattern of “(subject)’s SO (adjective)” or its grammatically correct equivalent:

  • 17-Across: HE’S SO FINE was a [Hit for the Chiffons] and my fiancee’s new anthem (though she doesn’t know that yet). Just what is it that the Chiffons say three times after the song’s title? According to one website, it’s “do-lang.” Does that mean something?
  • 31-Across: I’M SO EXCITED, the [Hit for the Pointer Sisters], is my new anthem. (It’s only fair we should each have one.) I saw the Pointer Sisters perform this song live at the Kennedy Center back in the mid-1980s. I was wearing a suit and tie that night, and I was one of the few dancing in the aisles during the song. Long story.
  • 47-Across: YOU’RE SO VAIN was the [Hit for Carly Simon] about Warren Beatty. Or Mick Jagger. Or James Taylor. Or Cat Stevens. Or Deep Throat.
  • Ready for her big break in roller derby

  • 61-Across: IT’S SO EASY was a [Hit for Linda Ronstadt]. Even after all these years, and no matter the song, when I hear Linda Ronstadt on the radio I think of the album cover pictured to the right.

I like that the first word of each title is different, and the fact that all of the performers are women adds another layer of consistency and cohesiveness to the theme.

There are some terrific entries in the fill, like GO DEEP, meaning to [Belt a homer, in baseball slang], OFF-RAMP, AMPS UP, WINK AT, DOODAD, and JALISCO, the Mexican state clued with reference to the fact that [Its capital is Guadalajara].

My favorite clues were [Noticeable navel] for an OUTIE (the alliteration feels Klahn-ian) and SGT. [Rock (war-themed DC Comics character)]. I thought I was the only one who remembered Sgt. Rock! I also liked the shout-out to THORA Birch and her performance in American Beauty. In a film crammed with great performances, I thought she really made the most out of a small role.

That whole stack of YES MAN, ON TIME, and U-TURNS in the southwest is so brilliant it deserves its own paragraph. But I learned in the fifth grade that every paragraph should have at least three sentences. So sometimes you have to stretch.

Trip Payne’s Celebrity crossword, “Movie Monday”

Celebrity crossword solution, 2 6 12 "Movie Monday" Payne

The subject of this week’s cinema-themed Celebrity puzzle is yes-that’s-his-real-name Channing Tatum:

  • 15a. [Actor whose first gig was as a dancer in the video for Ricky Martin's "She Bangs": 2 wds.], CHANNING TATUM.
  • 29a. [Debut movie of 15-Across: 2 wds.], COACH CARTER. Football movie, right? Never saw it.
  • 48a. [2011 movie starring 15-Across: 5 wds.], THE SON OF NO ONE. Never heard of it, despite reading my Entertainment Weekly, well, weekly. Oh, dear. It grossed $30K. Not $30M, $30K. Indie cop movie, played at Sundance.

Now, the upcoming Channing Tatum film I’m looking forward to is Magic Mike, in which he plays a stripper showing the new guy the male-stripper ropes. Based on a true story—of Channing Tatum himself! He worked as a stripper when he was 19, before his big break in the “She Bangs” video.

Have you ever channed? I’m thinking of a double bill with Being John Malkovich and Channing Tatum O’Neal.

For me, the hardest part of this puzzle was the S in 48a/49d. Scott [Bakula's 2001-2005 "Star Trek" series, for short] is, uh, STE. In non-pop-culture crosswords, that’s usually clued as the abbreviation for a French female saint. Here, it’s—not The New Generation, not Deep Space Nine, not Voyager. Heading to Wikipedia—oh. It’s not “Star Trek: S_ T_ E_,” it’s Star Trek: Enterprise. While that first letter could have been any letter in the alphabet in that abbreviation, the words CON, EON, TON, and WON were all much less plausible than THE SON OF NO ONE.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday #155″

BEQ 408 Antworten

In his post, Brendan says the seed entries were the quintet of long answers—PRETTY PLEASE, SUMMER DAYS, SMOKESTACK, and CALLS IT QUITS bonded together by LOCAVORES. I’m feeling iffy about the phraseness of SUMMER DAYS—I wanted it to be “Summer Nights” from Grease—but like the other four.

Trickiest clues (if you’re me):

  • 38a. [Rite of passage?], legislatively, is a YEA VOTE.
  • 45a. AUTOS is, apparently, a [Menu word on AOL's home page]. Not sure I’ve seen AOL’s home page since the 1990s.
  • 6d. [Eight-time World Series of Poker winner Phil] IVEY? Wasn’t sure about ONE LOVE, was thinking about TV shows rather than a MATINEE, and didn’t have the crossings to get CS LEWIS, so I was crunched here. Judith Ivey! I would have gotten that, but this Phil clue left me stranded.
  • 14d. [Planet discovered during the Carter administration] is ORK, home of Mork. Heh.
  • 31d. [Common common area sights] for me means “things in the front or back yard of my condo building.” Common areas in a dorm or an apartment shared by random roommates may have SOFAS. I’m still affirmatively loving my couch from Room & Board, by the way. Have had it since last July and it remains the couch of my family’s dreams. (It’s missing a chaise or recliner component, but we make do.)

Four stars.

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12 Responses to Monday, 2/6/12

  1. Golfballman says:

    How the hell can you review a monday NYT puzzle at 8:01 sunday night?. It isn’t even posted until 10:00 pm sunday. If you have an inside track how about a spoiler alert.

  2. Tuning Spork says:

    Golfballman, the Sunday and Monday NYT puzzles are posted at 6:00pm ET on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. 10:00pm postings are only on weeknights. Why? I dunno.

  3. joon says:

    well, some of us were watching the game until 10 pm anyway. but now that i’ve done the puzzle, i have to say i love it. sure, it’s a repeated word, but just a little one, and every single one of these phrases is terrific. minimal garbage in the fill, either, and there’s plenty of lively stuff. most fun i’ve had on a monday puzzle in months. i’ll give this one 5 stars.

  4. andy says:

    i smiled while i was doing this one at westport. fresh, low on crosswordese, and the theme was fun, with surprising entries [HALFSIES, BELLYUP, HAYWIRE, CRAZY, and COMMANDO are all nice stand-alone entries]. the UL is nasty for speed solvers (raise your hand if you had AVULA at any point for UVULA, or JOHUM for HOHUM), but i’m looking forward to more tom pepper puzzles.

  5. Gareth says:

    Yes, surprised to see a repeated first word theme: but the answers are definitely all colourful especially GOCOMMANDO!

    @Golfballman: Until you click on the post, there are no spoilers anyway…

  6. Jan says:

    At Westport, I also started the upper left with BAjA and BEGaN, and several others mentioned doing that as well. (@andy and joon – should i be doing the lowercase thing too – is that in the westport finalist secret handbook?)

  7. pannonica says:

    “Too many imperfect squares.” — Jeffrey

    Ha!

  8. Doug P says:

    Thanks for the fun write-up and roller-ific album cover, Sam. I wanted to use the Cyndi Lauper song “She’s So Unusual” in the theme too, until I found out it wasn’t a song. It was just the title of her debut album. Oh well. You can consider that a semi-thematic bonus entry.

    I’ve been searching YouTube for a clip of your “I’m So Excited” dance, but no luck yet.

  9. pannonica says:

    ?

    • “She’s So Cold” The Rolling Stones
    • “She’s So High” Blur
    • “She’s So Lovely” Scouting For Girls (don’t know this one, but apparently a karaoke-worthy hit)

    (of course, not one is the right length for the puzzle as it is)

  10. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Just did Deber’s Sunday, and felt compelled to weigh in. It just shows how idiosyncratic reactions can be. Who complains more about exotic, Thursdayish themes than I? (That’s rhetorical, but the answer may be ‘no one.’) I was totally baffled by Deber’s puzzle too, and had to study it after I finished, but when it hit, I thought it was one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever seen. I not only loved it, but I’m in awe of it. I agree that “as to cost” has a Trip Wacky Warrior feel to it, but to me the puzzle still easily achieves the 5-star Parnassus of Puzzledom rating. What’s a poor constructor or editor to do with so many conflicting, contradictory opinions.

    Also loved Nucky’s, and wish we saw more of his. I’m not enough of a serious baseball scholar to confirm this of my own knowledge, but I have heard the following clever trivia question: Who was the last switch hitter to win the AL MVP award? Answer Vida Blue. (The point obviously being that he was a pitcher, and therefore the description “switch hitter” is distracting, but accurate, since he won in the pre-designated hitter era.)

    Bruce

  11. J. Eric says:

    I also had a hell of a time with the NW corner of the BEQ puzzle. I just couldn’t crack an answer to start building on. I’m ultimately not crazy about the clue for PRETTY PLEASE. The sleeve-tugging thing brings to mind more of a pestering-type of please, like PLEEEEASE. I dunno.

    But as always, it was a super-fun puzzle.

  12. jefe says:

    Coach Carter is a basketball movie. Samuel L. Jackson teaches integrity to high-schoolers. Maybe a bit cliche, but a good movie.

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