Monday, 4/30/12

NYT 3:17 (pannonica) 
LAT 2:53 (Jeffrey -paper) 
CS 4:55 (Sam) 
BEQ untimed 
Celebrity untimed 

Susan L. Stanislawski’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review

NYT • 4/30/12 • Mon • Stanislawski • 43012 • solution

All the NYT crosswords appearing this week débuted this past weekend at the Brown University Crossword Tournament, and all were constructed by current Brown students.

[edit: Just peeked at the NYT Wordplay blog and see that those puzzles start tomorrow.]

[double edit: The Mon-Thurs NYT puzzles this week appeared at six crossword tournaments last weekend. Tomorrow's puzzle, by two Brown students, was the only imminent NYT puzzle at tournament #7, the Brown tournament—but the other puzzles there, all by Brown students, will appear in the Times later.—Amy]

28d. [Quaint lodging hinted at by the outsides of 18-, 20-, 28-, 42-, 51-, or 55-Across] is the crossword-familiar B AND B, bed and breakfast. See also, crossword favorites RANDR, PANDG, ET AL. (3d).

So, names and phrases beginning and ending with the letter B.

  • 18a. [Group that includes North, South, East and West] BRIDGE CLUB.
  • 20a. [Actor Thornton in "Sling Blade"] BILLY BOB. Aside: he was more than just an actor in that film; kind of like an auteur, mmm.
  • 28a. [Chesapeake Bay delicacy] BLUE CRAB.
  • 42a. [Activity a puppy loves] BELLY RUB.
  • 51a. [Service provided at Meineke and Pep Boys] BRAKE JOB. Odd editorial choice to use “and” instead of “or” in the clue; the other shoe dropping from the revealer, where I would’ve expected “and” and not “or” (which wouldn’t have demanded BANDBS).
  • 55a. [Sparring injury perhaps] BRUISED RIB.

Straightforward theme, with a healthy six entries—seven, including the revealer—of moderate length. This approach ensures that less compromise will be needed in the ballast fill, and indeed by virtue of shape and fill it’s a smooth solve, with little to induce frowns. A more rigorous constructing feat would have entailed eliminating Bs from the non-theme fill, but that kind of flourish surely would have led to the kind of fill that’d make this a non-Monday offering.

A few notes:

  • 35a [Writer Ayn and others] RANDS. Almost wished this was clued as something like [Auto parts chain __ Strauss], but alas (1) it’s regional, and (2) they officially changed the name to Strauss Discount Auto in 1995.
  • 31d [Like chicken breast cutlets] BONED, which of course means the same thing as deboned. Yay, English! I do, however, have something to pick with the clue for the crossing (37a) PLAIN: [Bare-bones], which unnecessarily repeats the down fill.
  • 24d [Seventh heaven] BLISS. Nothing remarkable here, just a coincidence that it echoes one of the “infractional” themers from yesterday’s NYT.
  • 27d [Old LPs and 45s] VINYL. No need for the “old” here.
  • The two long verticals are good and interesting fill, WELL-READ and the colloquial “LISTEN UP!
  • Nice to see some playful clues in an early-week puzzle. My favorite is 10d [Something always sold in mint condition?] TIC-TAC.

Pretty much what one expects out of a Monday NYT: decent theme, good execution. My criticisms, which are mere quibbles, concern primarily some editing choices.

Updated Monday morning:

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Who Do We Appreciate?” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, April 30

Welcome (back?) to the CrosSynergy construction team, veteran puzzle-maker Alan Arbesfeld! Today’s puzzle is a homonym theme, as the first word in each theme entry sounds like an even number. From top to bottom, then, there’s 2-4-6-8:

  • 20-Across: The [Broth spoiler, idiomatically] is TOO MANY COOKS. They may spoil a broth, but they sure make for a lively start to the puzzle.
  • 28-Across: Another way to say ["You can quote me on this"] is FOR THE RECORD.
  • 47-Across: One who [Incites Rover to attack] SICS THE DOG ON another. I’m not a fan of ending the entry with a preposition, even though it’s required to make the entry of even length with FOR THE RECORD. Call it an abundance of loyalty to the notion that prepositions are bad things to end sentences with. Would SICS THE DOG, paired with FOR THE BEST or FOR THE BOYS be better? Or is this just one of those entries that really needs the preposition to be complete?
  • 55-Across: One who [Picked at one's dinner] just ATE LIKE A BIRD. There’s a bird’s nest on the porch of my fiancee’s house, and the three baby chicks sitting in the nest seem to do a lot of eating, if you ask me. But you’re not going to get fat on regurgitated worms from mom, so I guess the simile remains valid.

Newer solvers will see lots of Crosswordese in this grid–and newer solvers may wonder what the heck we mean by “Crosswordese.” To me, it refers to terms you see in puzzles much more often than you see in real life. Consider OBIS, BAA, RRR, ILIE Nastase, AGAR, DELE, MESON, EL ORO, and OLA. You don’t really hear these in many conversations, but you’ll see them more than a handful of times in your friendly neighborhood crosswords. We tend to accept Crosswordese begrudgingly. Sometimes it’s needed so the constructor can insert lively entries (like THREE AM, OWE TO, ON BOARD, YE OLDE, and WINE BARS in this puzzle), but no one feels uplifted by seeing them in puzzles. Puzzles that can give you the lively entries with a minimum amount of Crosswordese, then, tend to earn more kudos. But you might as well get to know these common crossword terms because they’re bound to come up in more puzzles down the road.

Final thought: You don’t see Jaromir JAGR in as many puzzles as ILIE Nastase, but it’s still a name worth knowing. That J is like a siren for many constructors, so there’s a great temptation to use a name like JAGR even though Bobby ORR remains the most famous hockey player in crosswords.

Kevin Christian’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution Monday April 30 2012

Theme answers:

  • 20A. [Christian led by the Pope] – ROMAN CATHOLIC. Must be nice to have a last name you can sneak into a clue.
  • 39A. [Equine that originated in Italy's Campania region] – NEAPOLITAN HORSE. I’m guessing it is vanilla, chocolate and strawberry coloured.
  • 55A. [Slatted window treatment] – VENETIAN BLIND

Three things named after Italian cities. I guess that’s a valid Monday theme.

Other stuff:

Bonus Roman references:

  • 30A. [300, to Caesar] – CCC
  • 35A. [Road for Caesar] – ITER

Bonus non-Italian but starting with I geographic references:

  • 16A. [Ireland's best-selling solo artist] – ENYA
  • 42A. [Iraqi currency] – DINAR
  • 65A. [Machu Picchu resident] – INCA

So why is one a comedian and the other a comedienne department:

  • 27D. [Comedian Sykes and a fish] – WANDAS
  • 29D. ["Can We Talk?" comedienne] – JOAN RIVERS

Learn your E-A crosswordese:

  • 34D. [Govt. antipollution org.] – EPA
  • 36D. [Inbound flight approx.] – ETA

Happy Canadian Tax Day:

  • 10A. [1040, for example] – FORM. That would be called a T-1 in Canada. Mail yours by midnight. I have already received my refund, and like any good Canadian, will be spending it by going to a crossword tournament in the United States.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ #432 answers

Lots of long answers entangled in one another’s legs here, and Brendan tells us the NW and SE corners were tough to wrangle. Stacked 15s crossing 8s and 9s, and only two 3-letter answers in the entire grid? I believe it. But, like Patrick Berry, Brendan makes it look easy because he doesn’t lean on roll-your-own words and REASSESSED-type fill to pave the way. Yes, SUCCEEDER ([One who comes later, archaically]) is ugly and NARES is crosswordese, but MIXING METAPHORS (nice clue: [Saying "low rung on the totem pole", e.g.]), ELIZABETH WARREN, KEPT THE DOOR OPEN (raise your hand for LEFT instead of KEPT), “I’VE SAID IT BEFORE,” SINGAPORE, SEND-OFFS, BIG BEN (with a “bongs” clue), and the game combo JENGA and JOTTO work well.

Brendan clues ASSNS as [NOW and others]. There’s a veritable (inter)national organization of women right here in the grid: ILENE Rosenzweig, ELIZABETH WARREN, LAUREN Conrad, Beverly SILLS, the two MELS from Spice Girls, ALLY Sheedy, SELA Ward, Auntie MAME, Rosa PARKS, that chick COREA, CONCHITA Martínez, BETSEY Johnson, La Femme AKITA, and NENA. Brava!

3.75 stars.

Bruce Venzke’s Celebrity crossword, “Movie Monday”

Celebrity crossword answers, 4 30 12

“I’ll take ‘Current Box Office Figures’ for $1,200, Alex.”

  • 18a. MICHAEL EALY, [Star coupled with Taraji P. Henson in 30-Across: 2 wds.]
  • 30a. THINK LIKE A MAN, [Movie that cost $13 million to make but earned $33 million in its first weekend, ousting "The Hunger Games" from the #1 spot at the box office: 4 wds.]
  • 40a. STEVE HARVEY, [Author of the best-selling dating-advice book on which 30-Across is based: 2 wds.]

The movie’s second weekend is the one we just had, and Think Like a Man stayed on top of the box office for its second straight weekend, topping The Hunger Games and four new movies. Me, I’m skipping the movie for feminist reasons, but I love it when movies with largely African-American casts do well at the box office so studios will quit saying “We can’t market a niche movie like that.”

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31 Responses to Monday, 4/30/12

  1. Jason F says:

    Nice Monday puzzle. Only nit for me is that the clue for “BRIDGE CLUB” feels a bit forced. I think of a bridge club as having more than one table, hence multiple Norths, Souths, etc.

  2. pannonica says:

    I had that thought as well, but supposed that there could be a modest group that meets for a regular game and call themselves a club. There’s a play called “The Octette Bridge Club,” of which I know little, but it’s possible that they play in teams of two members per direction. Not a bridge initiate. So in the end I left it alone.

  3. billy bob says:

    i’m super happy rands wasn’t clued [Auto parts chain __ Strauss], since i (and many others) would have had 0 chance of getting it.

  4. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Apparently there is a singer named Nicki Minaj, who appeared in a recent X-wd. How do you pronounce that? Meena Jay? Meen Eye? Meenadge?

    Bruce

  5. Daniel Myers says:

    The problem is that the RANDS clue is simply incorrect. How can you call someone a writer who doesn’t even know how to spell her first name?

  6. ktd says:

    Minaj has a French-sounding pronunciation: “mi-NAZH”

  7. Daniel Myers says:

    @p-Speaking of names, I was musing, as is sometimes my wont during Monday doldrums, as to whether you’d ever considered changing your online moniker: ANNE RICE PAN. It does have a certain ring to it. But, no doubt, as champion anagrammatist, you’ve discarded far better.

  8. JanglerNPL says:

    “OWE TO” is a lively entry?

  9. Sam Donaldson says:

    Some of us who don’t get out as much have lower thresholds for liveliness.

  10. Kevin says:

    Disappointed with the fill in the CS puzzle today. For such an easy theme, you’d really think we could get beyond stuff like DELE, MESON, ATERRE, and RRR. Interesting different cluing for OLE though – not sure I liked it, but it was different!

  11. jefe says:

    Hold up – the Celebrity puzzle I’m getting on Facebook is a Terminator-themed Movie Monday by Aimee Lucido.

  12. pannonica says:

    Nope, and I’m not much of an anagrammatician.

  13. Daniel Myers says:

    @omnes-Anyone interested in this little thing and its history – “&” – should delight in this programme:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01gvlfr

    Caveat: You may become an “ampers-fan”!

  14. Daniel Myers says:

    @p-A pity. Did you know that Louis XIII had a royal anagrammatist?

  15. janie says:

    >Louis XIII had a royal anagrammatist

    in the cruciverbal world, i believe that regal honor would be bestowed upon merl. reagle…

    ;-)

  16. Daniel Myers says:

    The point being: My apologies, pannonica, for taking liberties with your name or any other sort of lèse-majesté commited by yours truly; for you would be in the running for royal anagrammatist, you know. I can pull up a link to a past blog post to prove it. But I shan’t. I hope you’ll forgive this bit of playfulness on my part.

  17. Daniel Myers says:

    You lost me, Janie – “merl. reagle” – I get the regal homophone, but that’s about it. But again, I am but a commoner. ;-)

  18. pannonica says:

    What’s in a name, anyway.

  19. Daniel Myers says:

    Hm, declarative rather than rhetorically interrogative (i.e., no “?”). Purposefully?

  20. janie says:

    merl is an anagrammist par excellence — probably none better!

    ;-)

  21. Daniel Myers says:

    I have yet to encounter – or, more likely, the name has simply slipped my mind – this Merl the cruciverbal Earl. Perhaps he’ll hold court soon, in all his anagrammatic splendour.;-)

  22. Bananarchy says:

    No complaints about the prepositional finale in SICS THE DOG ON, especially considering the alternative SICS THE DOG reminds me of SCARES THE HECK, a particularly revolting NYT entry from a number of years back.

  23. rock says:

    Daniel, surely you’ve done puzzles by Merl Reagle!!??

  24. Daniel Myers says:

    rock, Yes, I have. It’s just that until I started reading and contributing to this blog, I never thought it worth noticing the constructors’ names. So, I now know BEQ, Andrea “What’s in a name?” Carla Michaels and a few others by heart—and now Merl Reagle. But, if you asked me to name seven NYT cruciverbal constructors off the top of my head, I couldn’t do it. I spent over ten years concentrating on the puzzles and not worrying about who constructed them. It was actually quite a while before I bothered to notice the name “Will Shortz” at the top of each puzzle and twigged that he must be the editor. I suppose one could say that I’m not part of the cruciverbal “scene” or something of the sort.

  25. pannonica says:

    Yes.

  26. Daniel Myers says:

    “Yes.” bloody what, pannonica? I’m not a Zen master either.

  27. Daniel Myers says:

    Sorry, but you could mean at least three different things by “Yes.” and whichever I choose to assume you mean will undoubtedly be wrong. Is a little clarification too much to ask? Yes. I suppose it is.

  28. Daniel Myers says:

    If anybody knows to what pannonica is referring with any degree of certitude, will they kindly apprise me? It’s just not her style to deign to explain. Thanks.

  29. Martin says:

    “If anybody knows to what pannonica is referring with any degree of certitude, will they kindly apprise me? It’s just not her style to deign to explain.”

    I think Mr. Myers is really Jeeves.

    -MAS

  30. Daniel Myers says:

    “Yes.” bloody what, pannonica? I’m not a Zen master either.

    Not terribly Jeevesean—More Woosterish, I should think.

  31. Daniel Myers says:

    Mind you, Martin, that I did do a Wodehouse parody on The Guardian that went something like this:

    I say, Jeeves, how do these authors think up the titles for these books, like this one by some blighter called Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises?

    I believe you’ll find it in the book of Ecclesiastes, sir.

    Ah, so he cribbed it did he? Not that I have anything against cribbing, per se – if per se are the words I’m looking for – used to do it all the time in the sixth form common room off of Lolly Baselton-Purbright. So, this other book, Ecclesiwhatsit – More of a page-turner, is it?

    I shouldn’t put it quite that way, sir.

    You know, Jeeves, I think most of the evils in the world are down to books.

    Really? Might one inquire as to how you came to formulate this opinion, sir?

    No, it just came to me, as ideas do.

    Very good, sir.

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