Monday, 4/2/12

NYT 3:38 (pannonica) 
LAT 2:52 (Jeffrey) 
CS 5:21 (Sam) 
BEQ untimed 
Celebrity untimed 

Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review

NYT • 4/1/12 • Mon • Lempel • solution • 4 2 12

The NYT follows up a golf-themed Sunday puzzle with a baseball-themed Monday. A slightly speedier sport. Yay.

The theme entries, in their latter parts, describe (in skeletal terms) the sequence of getting a point in the game, from the offensive player’s point of view.

  • 16a. [Relaxing spot on a veranda] PORCH SWING. Presumably, the bit about stepping up to the plate, waiting for the pitcher to be ready, then stepping away to adjust one’s cap, returning to the plate, waiting again for the pitcher, then at the last moment holding up one’s hand, backing off, knocking dirt from one’s cleats, resuming a batting stance, et cetera, et cetera, has already occurred.
  • 23a. [Huge success at the box office] SMASH HIT.
  • 37a. [Virginia site of two Civil War battles] BULL RUN. They are called—incredibly enough—the First Battle of Bull Run and the Second Battle of Bull Run. You may recognize the site from crosswords as Manassas.
  • 46a. [Hillside threat after a heavy rain] MUDSLIDE.
  • 56a. [Sheet music for Van Cliburn, say] PIANO SCORE.

Swing, hit, run, slide, score. I’m not much of a baseball fan (as you may have detected), but the only scenario I can imagine appropriate to this five-part invention (eat seine Herz out, Bach) is an inside-the-park home run. Agree? Disagree? Discuss. (Mondays are generally comment-impoverished.)

Additional theme content with the middle-latitude paired verticals: 25d [With 35-Down, much anticipated cry every April] “PLAY | BALL!” Clue needs a qualifier, IMN-S-H-O. From the official MLB website: “The 2012 Major League Baseball season will open with the christening of one ballpark, a 20th-anniversary celebration of the ballpark that changed everything and the hope of another World Series that will end no later than October. The Cardinals and Miami Marlins will begin the season with the opening of Florida’s new ballpark on Wednesday, April 4, followed by six openers the next day.”

A pair of long non-theme downs shine. SIXTH GRADE [Traditional start of middle school]; Where I grew up, elementary school was grades one to six, junior high from seven to nine, and high school from 9 to 12; one could choose to be a socially secure senior in JHS or a lowly freshman in HS. In other, “weird” districts, there were entities known as intermediate schools, which were only grades seven and eight. [Whenever you feel like it] ANY OLD TIME. Excellent, colloquial.

As with last week’s Monday, there seems to be a minor uptick in the variety and interestingness of the fill; I hope this is a deliberate and long-lasting editorial decision. Deputy DAWG, full-name IM PEI, LETHE, SPY RING, for instance. Low CAP Quotient™ and a fluid solve. This scorekeeper proclaims no Errors.

Instant Replay:

  • 47d & 59a: [Pitch-dark] UNLIT crossing [Makes less bright] DIMS. Also, is pitch a baseball tip-of-the hat? Probably just inadvertent, as if it were intentional, there are many missed opportunities in the puzzle for more sly fun.
  • 36a & 37d: [Late singer Winehouse] AMY near to [2009 British singing sensation Susan] BOYLE. Both British, kind of associated, I guess. I’m stretching here.
  • 18a [World's Fair, e.g.] EXPO. Not [Ex-Nat], which is probably a little too tough for a Monday.
  • TUG and LUG play paired supporting roles in the center of the grid; they remind me of architectural columns.

Average puzzle, not SUBLIME (23d).

Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution Mon Apr 2 2012

Theme: LOL – L-word of the L-word
Theme answers:

  • 20A. [One completely lacking morals] – LOWEST OF THE LOW
  • 25A. [2009 Will Ferrell dinosaur movie] – LAND OF THE LOST. Never saw it.
  • 42A. [Woman with varying roles in Arthurian legend] – LADY OF THE LAKE. I think she was Secretary of State and Assistant Deputy Minister of Fisheries.
  • 47A. [What exacting judges follow] – LETTER OF THE LAW. Is that how they handle the LOWEST OF THE LOW?

Scrabble players delight:

  • 5A. [Knight fights] – JOUSTS
  • 55A. [__ Mahal] – TAJ
  • 60A. [Team on a farm] – OXEN
  • 61A. [Alphabet ender] – ZED in Canada.
  • 63A. [Call to a queue] – NEXT
  • 52D. [Opulence] – LUXE
  • 53D. [Highest point] – APEX
  • 55D. [Looney Tunes devil, casually] – TAZ

Other stuff:

  • 17A. [Roller coaster feature] – LOOP
  • 49D. [Disney World's Space Mountain, e.g.] – RIDE. I don’t believe Space Mountain has a loop, although there is conflicting information on this. I do know it is dark and scary.
  • 59A. [Singer Bette] – MIDLER
  • 4D. [Longtime logo with a top hat and monocle] – MR. PEANUT. Am I a man or am I a logo?
    11D. [Hairline's midpoint, perhaps] – WIDOWS PEAK. Weird thing to be called.
    21D. ["Smooth Operator" singer] – SADE
    26D. [Common man with a six-pack?] – AVERAGE JOE in Canada.
    56A. [Political fugitive] – EMIGRE. Isn’t anyone who moves out of a country an EMIGRE? I think the clue needs a “,perhaps”

Required Batman reference:

  • 24A. [Sound preceding "Oof!"] – POW

Odd fact:

  • 41A. [Abacus pieces] – BEADS. I own an Abacus.

Liking of the Los Angeles Times. **** stars.

Updated Monday morning:

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Splitsville” – Sam Donaldson’s review

Solution to CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, April 2

Each of the five theme entries in today’s Lynn Lempel crossword begins with a word that can follow “split:”

  • 17-Across: Something [Rather inferior] is SECOND-RATE (split second).
  • 40-Across: [Sailor-inspired outwerwear] is a PEA COAT (split pea, the soup that can double as mucous).
  • 61-Across: The [Homeowner's guard against bugs] is a SCREEN DOOR (split-screen, like the television setting or the film editing technique).
  • 10-Down: One who is [Showing good judgment] is said to be LEVEL-HEADED (split level, like all the trendy homes these days).
  • 26-Down: A theater’s [Box office] is its TICKET BOOTH. Boy oh boy, did I want that to be TICKET SALES. That caused quite the jam in the southwest corner, trust me. (split ticket? Huh? Help me, Wikipedia! It’s “a ballot on which the voter has chosen candidates from different political parties when multiple offices are being decided by a single election. Split-ticket voting is in contrast to straight-ticket voting in which a voter chooses candidates from the same political party for every office on the ballot.”) And here I thought I majored in political science!

I loved the clue for CODE NAME, [Barack Obama's is "Renegade"]. Other great entries in the grid included RAIN DATE, SAT UP, UPTURNS, DEARIE ME, PERPLEX, and FILMDOM. ADAM BEDE has a really odd assortment of letters there in the middle. It undermined my confidence to see -MBE- in the center but I’m glad I stuck with it.

I was surprised by [Number two on Forbes's 2011 list of The World's Most Powerful Celebrities] as the clue for OPRAH. I would have thought she would be number one. I was happy, though, to have correctly guessed the person occupying the top spot: Lady Gaga. If you’re not a monster (one of her fans) yet, just listen to this. The lady’s got pipes.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

Quigley the Contest Runner's crossword solution, 4 2 12 "Themeless Monday"

Nice puzzle, though without a trademark Brand-New Term Never Before Seen in a Crossword. Possibly the WABAC MACHINE (which I assumed was from The Man from SMART or whatever it’s called, but Brendan informed me is from Rocky & Bullwinkle) fits the category as a new crossword answer, but it’s decades old.

Likes:

  • My local company AON, namesake of the Standard Oil Building Amoco BuildingAon Center (it’s the middle tower peeking through the clouds in that first photo) and, interestingly, sponsor of the Man U jerseys. You wouldn’t think a company with a Chicago HQ would be into the Premier League.
  • CAPITAL B clued as the Blogger.com logo, that big orangey-red B. Usually CAPITAL [insert letter here] clues reference proper nouns. Nice change-up here.
  • ELKS LODGE! Old school, plus a 5-consonant run. (See also: BRNO, Czech city with 3 consonants to start. I think maybe I went through Brno on the train once.)
  • SNOWS IN with  a chalet clue. My Vail, Colorado, hotel does not look like a chalet, but we did drivet past one of those A-frame houses yesterday. And? Some snowflakes here this morning, plus patches of snow on the ground and further up in the mountains, which I want to pronounce “moun-TAINS” for some reason. Similar to my pronunciation of “the ping-PONG.”
  • [One in a habit], 6 letters starting with A? I filled in ABBESS but it was ADDICT.
  • [Study of moles: Abbr.] clues CHEM. I kinda wanted DERM.

From the world of politics, we have PRE-ELECT, which … is that a word? Is that a thing? I’ve never seen it. And we also have [Bam, e.g.] cluing PRES., “Bam” being short for Obama. I don’t think his fans really use that term, though, do they? I figured the clue was about Bam Margera.

3.5 stars.

Frank Longo’s Celebrity crossword, “Movie Monday”

Celebrity crossword solution, 4 2 12 "Movie Monday" Longo

It’s Hot Charming British Man Day in the Celebrity crossword:

  • 15a. BEST ACTOR, [Oscar won by 21-Across for "The King's Speech": 2 wds.]
  • 21a. COLIN FIRTH, [British star who played King George in "The King's Speech": 2 wds.]
  • 41a. A SINGLE MAN, [2009 drama for which 21-Across was nominated for an Oscar: 3 wds.]. Looking at this in the grid, I can’t help wondering what ASING LEMAN means.
  • 52a. PREJUDICE, ["Pride and ___" (1995 miniseries starring 21-Across)]. The BBC miniseries that famously featured Firth in a wet, clingy white shirt, fresh from a dip in the lake.

What’s not to like?

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30 Responses to Monday, 4/2/12

  1. Travis says:

    When I went to school the breakdown was K-3/4-6/7-8/9-12. With 4-6 considered middle school though 4th was moved to K-3 after I went through. So I found the clue weird as well.

    I didn’t see any particular order to the theme answers so I was wondering if SPYRING/EASYWIN counted as theme answers. They talk about players getting a ‘ring’ for winning the World Series and win is self-explanatory though perhaps fails the non-sports clue test the rest of the themers pass.

  2. Jim Horne says:

    Bach can leave his heart uneaten. Yes, the relatively simpler inventions were specifically two- or three-part, but, for example, the Fugue in Musical Offering crammed six themes into the same grid. Damn, this is a geeky blog…

  3. Jeffrey says:

    Putting EXPO in an opening day puzzle is just cruel.

  4. Jeff M. says:

    Maybe it’s the wine talking, but I found this puzzle to be the perfect Monday. Breezy, timely and current.

  5. Howard B says:

    School districts in my state, even from town to town and district to district, vary widely enough that there is no common ‘middle school’. My town was always grouped as grades K-6, 7-8, 9-12 (no overlap). Then later on I learned of nearby areas with grade 6-8 middle schools (as the clue implies). Others go 5-8, still others even 5 or 6-9. Think it depends on local population and regulations.
    I don’t think there is any agreed-upon standard, so that’s the best a clue such as that can compromise. Seems a pretty safe bet for a middle-school-ish grade, overall.

  6. ArtLvr says:

    While we lived in Silver Spring MD, my daughter was in a middle school 7-9 though some other junior high schools in the district started their 9th-graders in the high school. The lag didn’t work out very well for many. I don’t know if they regularized it after we moved to NY… At least the high school did accommodate a Russian student we’d sponsored to emigrate to the US, with his schedule allowing for advanced courses in math and science plus daily catch-up in basic English, so he was soon off to graduate from MIT with honors!

  7. Pete says:

    The baseball season started last week, with the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics playing two games in Japan. So much for the “Official MLB Site” knowing what’s going on in Major League Baseball.

  8. Gareth says:

    Seen the theme before, but was still a good’un. Funny, although I said we could see baseball it was La Lynn not La Liz who created today’s puzzle! Like Pannonica I appreciated a number of the non-theme answers: INDYCAR and KISSME in parallel! Also, I find the number of school types in the US curious: here there are only two divisions: primary and high. 1-7, 8-12; although when I was in primary school at least it was still Sub A to Standard 5, Standards 6-10.

  9. jefe says:

    The BEQ puzzle has a major error at 15A – Clue doesn’t match entry.

    My middle school went 5-8, but some who started there in grade 5 had previously gone to a K-5 elementary school. So, some of my old classmates never graduated elementary school (which explains a lot actually…)

    And [Ex-Nat] wouldn’t work for EXPO; the former Expos are now the Nats. [Ex-Expo] might be NAT (or the other way around); you’d have to do something like [Nat, formerly] to get EXPO.

  10. JanglerNPL says:

    Odd…looks like someone rated the BEQ puzzle before it was even posted…the one on his site right now is from Thursday.

  11. Jeffrey says:

    The BEQ puzzle is available on the Facebook PuzzleSocial site before it gets posted on the BEQ site.

  12. pannonica says:

    jefe: Oops! Mark that an Error?

  13. Martin says:

    Alas, while the inside-the-park homer is an attractive narrative, it is much more likely that the theme involves a preexisting base runner and is the story of an RBI.

  14. Jeffrey says:

    So today is L day? Two Lynn Lempels and an L of the L. And Doug, how did I miss referencing Superman’s girlfriends? Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris…

  15. ArtLvr says:

    I just looked him up too: Alan Moorehead, born in Melborne, Australia: “In 1956, his book Gallipoli about the Allies’ disastrous World War I campaign at Gallipoli, received almost unprecedented critical acclaim (though it was later criticized by the British Gallipoli historian Robert Rhodes James as “deeply flawed and grievously over-praised”). In England, the book won the Sunday Times thousand-pound award and gold medal and was the first recipient of the Duff Cooper Memorial Award. The presentation of the latter was made by Sir Winston Churchill on 28 November 1956.”

  16. Martin says:

    You’re fact checking the corrected clue.

  17. Joel says:

    57 across in BEQ hasnt been right since those teams moved from the Izod Center some time back

  18. pannonica says:

    “Alas, while the inside-the-park homer is an attractive narrative, it is much more likely that the theme involves a preexisting base runner and is the story of an RBI.” – Martin

    But it goes straight from RUN to SLIDE. There’s no DAWDLE, LOOK AT SIGNALS, TAKE A LEAD, STAND AROUND SOME MORE, TALK TO THE BASEMAN, SCRATCH BUTT, and so on.

  19. Martin says:

    Joel,

    Crossword clues live in a state of temporal grace. “Former” may always be edited out for brevity. It’s one of the rules of the game.

    Oddly, we only mind if the present tense is but slightly abused. Nobody ever cares about “Giant great” OTT, or “Dodger great” REESE. (Nobody cares about abuse-of-tense, I should say.)

    But if it’s Yao Ming the NBA star or the Nets in Izod, someone is bound to cry “gotcha.” I think it’s because we realize it’s not a good bet that an editor is unaware that someone’s been dead for 50 years. On the other hand, we’d so love to show up said editor with our currency that we overlook the likelihood he or she knew the “news” before we did.

  20. Martin says:

    Uh, Pannonica. That all happened before the puzzle begins, right? (No butt-scratching while you’re being hit home.)

    In fact, that was all of yesterday’s puttering around.

  21. pannonica says:

    They do all sorts of things while they’re standing around, on (or near) base, waiting for subsequent batters to do something like hit or bunt or foul or let the ball go by or whatever.

  22. Martin says:

    Yes, but today’s story begins with a SWING and a HIT. The base runner is quite engaged from the start.

  23. pannonica says:

    Yes, but there is no narrative action between RUN and SLIDE—such as STEAL or WAIT (and then RUN again)—which suggests an unbroken sequence. Perhaps “engaged” is a relative term in baseball. I suspect we may need to “agree to disagree” here.

  24. Martin says:

    I would be happy to agree to disagree, but I really think we’re just talking past each other.

    My thesis is that the puzzle’s begins with the stage set — my preëxisting runner is on base. Let’s put him on second.

    The action told in the puzzle — a SWING, HIT, RUNning, SLIDE and SCORE — are all a single RBI play, your unbroken sequence. The batter swings and runs; the other guy runs, slides and scores. No time for chatting or spitting.

    If you understood my scenario and still agree it’s not tenable I’ll be happy to agree to disagree. If I just wasn’t clear before — well — sorry.

  25. pannonica says:

    Ah, I do now, and see that it’s viable. This is far more than I would ever wish to discuss baseball.

    However, your version seems a little lopsided as a narrative. Within the confines of the crossword grid, one (at least this one) is inclined to want all aspects to be self-contained.

  26. pannonica says:

    “Damn, this is a geeky blog…”
    —Jim Horne

    That’s a good thing, right?

  27. Martin says:

    Pannonica,

    I agree that, from a self-contained perspective, an inside-the-park home run is more attractive. However, it’s so rare (maybe 20 total a season versus a single team recording close to 1,000 RBIs during the same time) that a baseball fan would expect it to be announced with some sort of reveal. Naming the theme “PLAY BALL” and hiding an inside-the-park homer somehow seems perverse.

    But that’s all I got.

  28. jefe says:

    @Amy, ArtLvr: The original clue, which remains uncorrected on the Facebook app, was “Maroon 5 singer Levine”, the answer to which is of course Adam, not ALAN. As Martin points out, the clue was changed on BEQ’s site, which also notes “UPDATE: I have been alerted about the error. File’s changed now.”

  29. JaxInL.A. says:

    Martin and Pannonica, thanks for a great set of snickers before going to bed.

    Yeah, that geeky thing is very good.

Comments are closed.