Monday, 6/11/12

NYT 3:13 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:44 (pannonica) 
CS 5:43 (Sam) 
BEQ untimed 

Andrea Carla Michaels and Michael Blake’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review

NYT • 6/11/12 • Mon • Michaels, Blake • solution

A tidy little vowel progression to ease into the week.

  • 18a. [One knocked off a pedestal] FALLEN IDOL.
  • 24a. [Paid postgraduate position at a university] FELLOWSHIP.
  • 39a. [Solve a crossword, e.g.?] FILL IN THE BLANKS. You know, the white squares.
  • 55a. [Put a spade atop a spade, say] FOLLOW SUIT.
  • 63a. [Illegal wrestling hold] FULL NELSON.

And there you have it. One F_LLEN, two F_LLs, and two F_LLOWs (trivially, they’re F_LLOWSs, or even F_LLOWS_I_s).

Speedy-smooth solve, low CAP Quotient™ (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials), with enough variety to remain interesting.  Nothing too challenging or tricky, so a good introductory puzzle for novice solvers. Tougher sections readily gettable from crossings is another highlight of a well-constructed crossword.

Tidbits:

  • Fun long fill: FIDGETING, OLD YELLER, full (first) name ZSA ZSA.
  • EVIL | BONO! Yes, the truth! No wonder he has so many attorneys on retainer, doing all that work for him!
  • The three diagonal Ws starting at square 25 make me a bit dizzy. The nearby VNW combo does too, a little.
  • Factette: 8d [Cream-filled pastry] ÉCLAIR is also the French word for lightning. I have no idea what the connection is, except that I find it safest to avoid both.
  • Column 1: GRUFF/AFL/ABFAB. Try saying that fivetimesfast.

Fullfilling [sic] puzzle.

Updated Monday morning:

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “What’s Come Over Me?” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, June 11

60-Across says that VOODOO ECONOMICS is the [Derisive term for an '80s fiscal policy, and a hint to the starts of 17-, 27-, and 44-Across]. As near as I can tell, however, the starts of those entries are only about voodoo and not about economics. Let’s see what you think:

  • 17-Across: HEX-HEAD WRENCHESare [Common toolbox items]. “Hex” is clearly a voodoo-related term, but nothing much else has to do with economics.
  • 27-Across: A CHARM BRACELET is an [Easily personalized piece of jewelry].
  • 44-Across: SPELL-CHECKING is the [Word processing process].

So I guess my point here is that the clue for VOODOO ECONOMICS could have been a little clearer. Maybe [Derisive term for an '80s fiscal policy, the start of which is a hint to the starts of...] would have been better. Can we just wave a wand and pretend the original clue didn’t happen?

Every letter can be found in this grid, and you’ll see more than one of some rare letters like K and Z. I’m not familiar with C STORE as a [Modern service station adjunct, briefly] (I assume that’s a “convenience store”–interesting how some shorten “convenience store” to “c store” for, well, convenience.)

Favorite entry =I’M UP, clued as ["My turn to bat!"] (Clue-wise I might have liked something along the line of ["You can turn off the alarm clock now"] better.) Favorite clue = [Like Tonto's partner] for LONE, as in The Lone Ranger.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 6 11 12

All right, this isn’t my favorite BEQ themeless. THERE. I SAID IT. 19-Across is, however, a kickass entry. It’s basically a two-sentence answer, and when do we ever see that? I also like the usually genial (but sometimes angry) THE SAME TO YOU, GEORGE VI, GORILLAZ (even though I know none of their music), and brand-name PRILOSEC (I’m a generic OTC Pepcid girl, personally). And the GARP clue that rewards those who actually read the book.

WORK BAG did not come easily to me with [It often gets notions]. As in sewing items, or ideas? How is the bag “getting” the notions? I also leaned on the crossings for TWO TRAINS PUZZLE, [Classic problem involving a fly]. A fly? I’m doing the wrong puzzles.

Clues I like:

  • 34d. [Sucked from a Hummer, say] for SIPHONED, as in gasoline. If you think the clue is filthy, please note the capital H and wash your mouth out with soap.
  • 21d. AUNT, [Viv on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," e.g.]. Recently saw a British talk show on which Will Smith was guesting, and he led the audience in a “Fresh Prince” theme song sing-along. Every single person knew the words. Viv, of course, is cited in the lyric “move in with your auntie and your uncle in Bel-Air.”
  • 11d. [It goes over your head], a HOODIE. There are a couple other meanings of “goes over your head,” and I like those clues with multiple meanings.

Blah (to me) bits; DESTAIN, SOCA, L RON, SAXE, RIT.

3.25 stars.

Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s review

LAT • 6/11/12 • Grabowski, Venzke • solution

Quick, belated write-up here.

64-across reveals the theme: ["That's all she wrote," and literally, what the last word of each starred answer can be] END OF STORY. Nice, in the language fill, too.

  • 17a. [*Financial institution employee] BANK TELLER.
  • 41a. [*Sunbather's transition point] TAN LINE.
  • 11d. [*Cigarette lighter alternative] MATCH BOOK.
  • 35d. [*14-across-like sporting equipment] SNOW BOARD.

Simple, serviceable theme. I think MATCHBOOK and SNOWBOARD generally appear as compound words, so it’s possible to quibble with the wording of the revealer; does a “word” abdicate its wordiness when it’s subsumed into a compound word? More troubling to me, however, is the clue for 35d; when a themer cross-references a non-theme answer, it feels as if it’s slumming.

Overall, the puzzle is likewise serviceable, with a decent mix of words and cluing. Nothing spectacular, nothing awful. Just a solid early-week offering.

One note: 69a is a clever clue, [Landlubber : ship :: __ : ranch] for DUDE, but unfortunately the “dude ranch” phrase is so reflexive that the analogy trappings are wasted and the cleverness is short-circuited.

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10 Responses to Monday, 6/11/12

  1. ktd says:

    According to XWordInfo the word EFFECT appears for the first time ever in the NYTimes crossword in today’s puzzle–seems incredible that it never showed up before.

  2. tim says:

    I suppose crossing those F’s makes it more of a pain than at first glance.

  3. Jim Horne says:

    I still remember this fill in the blanks crossword from a decade and a half ago. As Martin said recently, it’s funny the things that stick in your mind. Check out the clues.

    http://www.xwordinfo.com/Crossword?date=6/24/1996&g=40&d=A

  4. Bananarchy says:

    @ktd: A remarkable discovery, but remember that the xwordinfo database only goes back to when Will Shortz’s editorship began in 1993. Matt Ginsberg’s database lists one occurrence of EFFECT in a NYT puzzle, but it was in 1979. The Ginsberg database, it should be noted, is also incomplete, so it’s likely that the word has appeared numerous times since the NYT puzzle began back in 1942. Surprising nonetheless.

  5. Daniel Myers says:

    One can’t help but wonder if all this to-do about EFFECT will be a cause of its more frequent appearance in subsequent puzzles. In which case, will the laws of cause-and-effect have completely broken down in the cruciverbal world?….Just something to ponder. ;-)

  6. ktd says:

    @Bananarchy–just two confirmed appearances in 70 years of puzzles? That’s really interesting. How many other fairly common words are crossword rarities I wonder…I remember in the past few years the word CLOCKS finally debuted. What other words are being overlooked?

  7. placematfan says:

    The BEQ puzzle has two viable solutions, as the SIPHONED/GIBE cross could also be SYPHONED/GYBE.

  8. Martin says:

    @placematfan,

    That would be true if “gybe” were an alternate spelling of “gibe.” It’s an alternate of “jibe,” the sailing term. “Gybe” has probably been confused with “gibe,” but at a minimium it would need to be signaled as an alternate spelling, if allowed (for the “gibe” meaning”) at all.

  9. pannonica says:

    Just did the CS. Although I was very impressed by the four theme entries, I agree with Sam’s grype: VOODOO ECONOMICS is not a revealer so much as just another themer. Characterizing it as a “hint” is not enough to justify it.

  10. placematfan says:

    @Martin, gotcha. Thanks.

Comments are closed.