Monday, 6/4/12

NYT untimed 
LAT 2:44 (Jeffrey/paper) 
CS 4:53 (Sam) 
BEQ untimed 

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

Los Angeles Times Crossword Solution Mon June 4 2012

Theme: L+long vowel sound (A-E-I-O-U in order)

Theme answers:

  • 17A. ["I'm all ears!"] – LAY IT ON ME. Layla
  • 25A. ["The Six Million Dollar Man" actor] – LEE MAJORS. I am old enough to remember (and love) this show. Leave Me Alone
  • 39A. [Polygraph procedure] – LIE DETECTOR TEST. The lie detector was invented by the same man who created Wonder Woman, who had a lasso that forced you to tell the truth. Lyin’ Eyes
  • 51A. [Like cheaply made movies] – LOW BUDGET. Lonely Boy
  • 64A. [Babe Ruth teammate] – LOU GEHRIG. I am old enough to remember Cal Ripkin. Luanne

Is Newlywed Jeff attempting to be King of the Mondays? This is the second in three weeks. I hope so. This is another breezy entry.

Other stuff:

  • 9A. [In __: right away] – A JIFF. Jeff is a tough name to get into crosswords so this is clearly a sneaky way to recognize all Jeffs in row one. I approve!
  • 1D. ["__ Ha'i": "South Pacific" song] – BALI
  • 10D. ["I Love Rock 'n Roll" rocker] – JOAN JETT. Again close to a Jeff.

Garage door update: After being “fixed” and working fine for a whole day, it is wonky again. Sigh. Tune in Wednesday for the next episode.

John O’Brien’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 4 12 0604

Things I like in this debut puzzle:

  • The NADIR/ACMES opposite combo.
  • The SARI/SITAR crossing across from fellow South Asian fill NEPAL.
  • PRAGUE, where I have been, and WAUSAU, the central [Wisconsin city] where my brother-in-law’s folks live (but I absolutely forgive anyone, even a Midwesterner, who has not heard of the place).
  • BASS clued as ["Largemouth" fish] because my dad enjoyed bass fishing, though he was a smallmouth man.

The theme is hard to figure out, exactly. We have four planets that share their names with Roman deities, appearing at the beginning of these phrases: VENUS DE MILO, SATURN ROCKET, MERCURY COMET (a car I don’t recall ever hearing of despite the car being made until I was 11—my husband also doesn’t remember it), and MARS CANDIES. My first concern is that I don’t see any rationale for these four forming a set—Jupiter and Neptune are also planets/Roman gods, and JUPITER FLORIDA would be legit. My second concern is that try as I might, I can’t find a justification for MARS CANDIES as “a thing.” Mars Bar, sure. M&M/Mars Candy/ies, okay. But the M&M/Mars business doesn’t seem to have a “Mars Candies” designation.

Ooh, MARS ATTACKS! would have been a fun theme answer. If the Saturn rocket can take a plural, MERCURY RISING could have been a more contemporary partner in the grid.

Weird that assorted other mythical names are in the grid, but all Greek rather than Roman—HERA, IRIS, and she-should-have-been-a-goddess XENA.

I like 1a: [Stick in one's __] CRAW, but when I switched to the Down direction to tackle 1d-4d, the Roman numeral CXVI at 1d stuck in my craw. I encountered any number of other answers that might pass muster in a Wednesday puzzle that keeps beginners at arm’s length, but seem out of place in a Monday offering. [Plains tribe] OTO, TRINI [Lopez with the 1963 hit "If I Had a Hammer"] (how many crossword newbies are 60+ years old?), [Some marbles] called AGATES (how many crossword newbies are old enough to have encountered the terminology of the game of marbles?), the region SAAR or the same-named [River across the French/German border], OTARU the [Japanese port] city, CAEN the [Battle of Normandy city], or ASTI the [Italian wine city]? I wonder if Otaru is more or less familiar to most Japanese than Wausau is to Americans. Otaru has three times the population of Wausau! And yet it still is not among Japan’s 110 largest cities.

2.25 stars. I wish this one had been more solidly conceived on the theme front and filled more cleanly. It’s been pointed out to me that a different grid design could have helped out—see how the theme entries lock in a **U**U at 4d and O***U at 31d? Those aren’t good letter combos to lock down. The last thing you want to do when making puzzles is limit your options like that.

Updated Monday morning:

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “FYI” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, June 4

The grid features three 15-letter entries, and the first word of each, read from top to bottom, details what “FY” stands for:

  • 17-Across: FOR THE TIME BEING is [Temporarily].
  • 37-Across: YOUR PLACE OR MINE is the [Corny pickup line].
  • 57-Across: INFORMATION DESK is [Where one may get directions].

FYI, there were four interesting tidbits in this puzzle:

(1) ERELONG, clued as [By and by], has always struck me as an incomplete word. “Wanna know ‘ow long that fish was, guv’na? It was ‘ere long.”

(2) SELF-SAME, meaning [Identical], is a very interesting entry.Um, that’s it–no joke or anything. I just liked it. RURAL ROUTE was cool, too, but not quite like SELF-SAME.

(3) I was slightly irked by IF SO crossing SO-SO. How strictly should we apply the convention against duplications? If one grid had, for instance, SELF-SAME and SENSE OF SELF, I think solvers would squawk. But I’D LOVE TO and HARD TO PLEASE in the same grid would not, I think, raise any eyebrows even though both contain “to.” I feel like the IF SO and SO-SO combination is a duplicate, but I’ll concede that if they didn’t cross I probably wouldn’t have noticed it.

(4) Loved the reference to SARASOTA, the [City south of Tampa] on Florida’s gulf coast, but that’s because my fiancee grew up close to there.

Favorite entry = WWF, the [Former body-slamming gp.]. Old school! Favorite clue = [Happy ending?] for HOUR.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 6 4 12 solution

If you just yoinked the puzzle from a link atop Brendan’s blog post and didn’t read below, then you might’ve missed seeing that his tip jar’s open for the first time in a half year. A donation of ≥$10 gets you a themeless 21×21 along with a chance to win his new crossword book.

My favorite name in this puzzle is Chrissie HYNDE, and much as I like “Brass in Pocket,” I have to give the edge to “Back on the Chain Gang.” (Video here.) Gotta love a badass woman rocker who never made an attempt to dress like Katy Perry or Gaga, with booty hanging out in fishnet nights. (See also: Janelle Monáe. She needs to make a follow-up to ArchAndroid already.)

Favorite word in the puzzle: TRICKSY. As in Gollum’s LOTR line, “We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little hobbitses. Wicked, tricksy, false!” (Please read aloud using your best Gollum voice.)

Least familiar word: 35d: SETTLOR, [One who establishes a trust of property]. This is indeed a word. Just one I’ve never seen before, having never established a trust.

Nice central: MANNY PACQUIAO. Wasn’t he in another themeless in the last month? I give him points for the whole most-famous-Filipino-alive bit (surely the younger generations don’t have a clue who Imelda Marcos is, right?) but then I take some of his points away for his homophobia (although he did not say the truly hateful things attributed to him recently).

Favorite clue: [Patron of binge drinking, briefly?] for ST. PAT. When I flew into Midway after the ACPT and saw a surprisingly long line at the security checkpoint for a Sunday night, I learned from a cop that tons of out-of-towners fly into Chicago for St. Patrick’s Day weekend to get drunk. Charming, innit?

For this 70-worder, I dispense 3.5 stars.

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14 Responses to Monday, 6/4/12

  1. Jeff Chen says:

    I tried “A JEFF” (clue: “Kicker of *ss and taker of names”) but for some reason Rich didn’t like that.

  2. Jared says:

    Comment retracted. If you don’t have something nice to say, or at least constructive, don’t say it at all.

  3. JanglerNPL says:

    Monday’s NYT puzzle has 80 words, and I don’t see a compelling reason that an exception was made here. If the max. word count is 80 words, that’s fine, but I think the spec sheet should be updated.

  4. rex says:

    Mystifying.

  5. ArtLvr says:

    Old camp song sung as a round: “Wausau the 42nd” — Now I find it’s from the Scottish:
    Wha saw the forty-second,/ Wha saw them gang awa’,/ Wha saw the forty-second,/ Mairchin’ doon the Broomielaw. / Some o’ them had buits an’ stockins,/ some o’ them had nane at a’,/ Some o’ them had umberellas [4 syllables!]/ Mairchin’ doon the Broomielaw

  6. Gareth says:

    I liked the clue for VENUSDEMILO a lot.

    Felt the LAT taking a sound-based approach made it more lively – also the choice of theme answers was nice, (although LEEMAJORS was all crossers!). Plus four great long answers and not much in terms of rankly short answers – a very high quality monday indeed!

    @ArtLvr – I didn’t know that song, but I do know “The Gallant Forty-Twa”. They have two folk songs in their honour!?

  7. Zulema says:

    Carp, carp, carp.

  8. Gareth says:

    @Zulema: Are you being koi?

  9. maikong says:

    Martin

    As one of the Q-Tips in Sarasota, thanks for referencing our paradise.

  10. Zulema says:

    Ah, Gareth, I wasn’t counting on your thinking of the creatures first.

  11. Martin says:

    I wonder if Otaru is more or less familiar to most Japanese than Wausau is to Americans. Otaru has three times the population of Wausau! And yet it still is not among Japan’s 110 largest cities.

    Otaru is a popular tourist destination for Japanese and Russians. It’s very beautiful (I posted some snaps at Wordplay last night) and interesting. It’s the “Venice of Japan,” both because of its canals and its art glass industry.

    It’s certainly as well known to the Japanese as many American cities with even smaller populations and rankings are to us, including Topeka, Charleston, Ann Arbor, Berkeley and Fargo. Even some crossword staples, like Erie and Waco, are smaller than Otaru.

    I’ve been to all the above-mentioned cities and my opinion is that Otaru has nothing to be ashamed of. For me, it would be between Otaru and Charleston for number 1.

  12. ArtLvr says:

    Neat one, Gareth! Both your song and mine are noted on wiki’s Black Watch website, along with at least one more, “Twa Recruitin’ Sergeants”, plus citation of a book by James Grant titled “The Black Watch or, Forty-Second Highlanders” which is a more complete history. They were part of the original Highland Watch raised by Charles II in 1669, and managed to keep the name “42nd” down to the present, though sometimes more traditionally than officially in periods of reorganization. The list of Battle Honours runs from Guadeloupe 1759 to Iraq 2003, including all wars you’ve heard of or not, in between – South Africa to Korea. They were also part of the royal ceremonies handing a last colony over to China, spawning this news item on one bit of the unexpected: “When wearing the kilt, it is customary for troops to “go regimental” or “military practice”, wearing no underwear. In 1997, a Black Watch soldier received wide press exposure, because of windy conditions during a military ceremony in Hong Kong.”

  13. Lois says:

    Amy, I thought your review of the NYT was nicely balanced. That said, regarding your question, “how many crossword newbies are 60+ years old?,” I would say, Plenty. That’s the age at which I started (though I had been doing Merl Reagle’s puzzles before), and I’m sure that there are legions of 60+ crossword newbies. First of all, there’s retirement for some in that age group, as in my case, and second of all, for those who have children, they might be out of the house and one might feel freer to do puzzles. In my case, it’s always been hard enough for me to read a paper and throw it away without adding crosswords to the task, but now I have done so. Having done so, it tickles me to fill in “Trini,” as a bit of nostalgia and quck fill, even if his was not my favorite version of “If I Had a Hammer.” We who are 60+ should have our Mondays, as the killa and gangsta fans have had theirs recently (not to say that there are no such fans who are over 60).

  14. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Lois, thanks for your testimonial. I bet Will Shortz has heard from a number of people who started doing crosswords after they retired and thus doesn’t shy away from trivia for the baby boomer+ generations.

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