Monday, 7/30/12

NYT 3:49 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:23 (pannonica) 
CS 6:02 (Sam) 
BEQ untimed 

Rosemarie Dolan and Christopher Geach’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review

NYT • 7/30/12 • Mon • Dolan, Geach • 73012 • solution

Looks as if we have some débuts among the Timeses today.

I twigged to the theme early on, probably because the first themer has been prominently in the news lately.

  • 17a. [Alternative name for 42-Down] DARK KNIGHT.
  • 33a. [Alternative name for 42-Down] CAPED CRUSADER.
  • 58a. [Alternative name for 42-Down] BRUCE WAYNE.
  • 13d. [Hometown of 42-Down] GOTHAM.
  • 42d. [Comics debut of 1939] BATMAN.

The absence of the definite article for those monikers seems fine to me, and it would seem a little affected for the guy to go around calling himself “the Bruce Wayne.” Sure, a sycophant at one of his fundraisers or cocktail parties might exclaim what an honor it is to meet the Bruce Wayne, but I digress. Boy, do I digress.

Forty-five squares is a healthy amount of theme content for a 15×15 grid, and especially so for a Monday puzzle.

Am guessing that the clue for NEST at 63a (beginning at the N in BATMAN) is an intentional tie-in with the theme, obliquely evoking the hero’s longtime juvenile companion: [Robin's haven]. Rather than feeling like a welcome bonus, this sort of thing feels lazily gratuitous to me.

Let me state here and now that I do not perceive any sort of costumed figure in a heroic pose among the white and black squares of the grid, but I digress again. Note to self: don’t digress.

  • 20a [Greek god of the ocean] POSEIDON. Little-known fact: POSEIDON started out with a utility belt, but it kept filling up with sand.
  • 37d [Glaring malevolently]. Unexpectedly tricky clue, as “glaring” here is an adjective, not a verb or gerund noun. I tried writing in EVIL-EYEING, which I was all set to be annoyed about.
  • Who would win this fight: UNITDSTANLEM vs. BISSLYDISITO? Which reminds me, the tug of war used to be an Olympics event, and these two appear to be worthwhile adversaries. The former has brute force while the latter possesses greater teamwork, synchronization, and… what? Oh right. Sorry for the digression.
  • 6d [Says "o'er" for "over," e.g.] ELIDES. Or “NE’ER” ["__ the twain shall meet"] for “never,” which crosses it at 23-across.
  • Was thrown by the clue at 29a [Upside-down six] for NINE. It wasn’t until after I finished the puzzle that I appreciated it was a reference to the numeral, as written, so I was thinking of some group or unit of six that is typically found inverted. Some quotes around the six would have been clearer, but I’m all for more trickery in early-week puzzles.
  • 21d [Craze] MANIA.

Good puzzle, solid Monday.

Vanessa Michaels’ Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s review

LAT • 7/30/12 • Mon • Michaels • solution

Straightforward, consistent theme. The four marquee entries are common phrases in the form (verb)s + (noun) and (opposite noun). Present tense and without a declared subject.

  • 17a. [Vacillates] BLOWS HOT AND COLD.
  • 25a. [Goes out with periodically] DATES OFF AND ON.
  • 47a. [Acts nervously in the waiting room] PACES TO AND FRO.
  • 62a. [Searches all over] LOOKS HIGH AND LOW.

The latter two even form a rhyming couplet.

Longer non-theme entries include BALD EAGLE and STREETCAR, which run alongside the first and last themers. Vertically, the grid offers MACARONI and SPARE KEY [One may be hidden in a fake rock].  Roughly balanced with MACARONI is BOW TIE, which is not clued as the pasta shape but as [Neckwear with a tux].

Reasonably low CAP Quotient™ (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials) in the puzzle, but there is conversely a lot of blah fill among the material that isn’t the highlighted long fill or the CAPpy stuff. This is always a danger for early-week puzzles. It really is tricky to negotiate a proper course between the this Scylla and Charybdis of crossword construction. DADDY-O is to my mind the most interesting item in this group.

Good puzzle, about average for a Monday. Liked the theme better than the rest, but it doesn’t seem woefully unbalanced.

Updated Monday morning:

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

CS solution, July 30

Take two expressions and two nouns (all 15 letters long), then try to find the common bond between them. If not for the puzzle’s title and the hint at 63-Across, I’d probably still be trying to figure it out. Fortunately, the hint says that an OREO is the [Cookie sandwiched inside 17-, 24-, 42-, and 56-Across]. Grab some milk for dunking and see for yourself:

  • 17-Across: One who [Prepared to give testimony, perhaps] very likely SWORE ON THE BIBLE. Does that mean Atheists can lie with impunity? Must we doubt the testimony of an Agnostic?
  • 24-Across: Another way to say ["Don't let that bother you!"] is to say THINK NO MORE OF IT. I kept wanting THINK NOTHING OF IT, and even toyed with THINK NOTHIN’ OF IT for a while. That’s a case where a small pause to think through the theme might have helped my overall solving time.
  • 42-Across: A [Camden Yards pro] is a BALTIMORE ORIOLE.
  • 56-Across: Some [Gulf of Mexico sights] are OFF-SHORE OIL RIGS. Then, of course, there’s the oil itself.

Like any good Oreo, the cookie has been twisted apart so as to provide a consistent break between the E and the last O.

We’ve seen a few Oreo tributes recently (my favorite remains this one), so this exact theme doesn’t feel as fresh as it would have a couple of months ago. Since these puzzles usually get made months in advance, that’s no fault of Martin’s–he’s just a victim of bad timing. It has happened to many constructors over the years, and there’s just nothing one can do about it.

Check out all those Es and Os in the southeast corner–doesn’t it look like someone crushed up a few more Oreos and sprinkled them there? I love how we get treated to a couple of interesting 10s, HORSESHOES (reminiscent of a recent MGWCC, no?) and PROPRIETOR. I also dug SIOUAN, SIXTH, GO INTO, and [Dan Gable's alma mater], IOWA. (Okay, the real clue for that last one was ["State Fair" state]–I just wanted to throw a bone to PuzzleGirl. Trust me, she’ll appreciate it.)

Favorite entry = DROOLS, or [Salivates]. Favorite clue = [Civic organization?] for HONDA.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 7/30/12

Gotta get to work, so this’ll be a 10-minute post. Go!

Likes:

  • 1a. [Excruciatingly cold], TEN BELOW. Especially in Fahrenheit. (Not to mention Kelvin.)
  • 24a. [Us people?], cool clue for STARS in the magazine.
  • 40a. [The olds], GEEZERS. Brendan, I need a definition here: What is the cutoff age for being considered one of the olds?
  • 66a. [Story tellers?], THE PRESS. Good use of the definite article.
  • 12d. LON CHANEY is mentioned in Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London,” which was the subject of a charming story I heard on NPR last Thursday.
  • 25d. [Canoe, vis-à-vis ocean?: Abbr.], ANAG. Always like an anagram clue like this.
  • 32d. [Django Reinhardt played it], JAZZ GUITAR.

Mehs:

  • NO ROOM, FROM L.A., and BETTER BRED feel rather un-in-the-language to me. Never heard of 30d, either; never did get into Beck.

Did you see the Easter egg Brendan snuck into the grid? Read the Acrosses and you’ll find it.

3.5 stars. Ten and out!

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21 Responses to Monday, 7/30/12

  1. Jeffrey says:

    BATMAN is of course lurking in the shadows of the grid, so you won’t see him unless he wishes it.

  2. Erik says:

    BOWTIEs are cool

  3. Mike Buckley says:

    The response here is a little underwhelming, so I would like to offer my congratulations to Rosemarie and Christopher on an excellent début.

    May I welcome you both to that exclusive group of constructors whose début puzzles appeared on a Monday with a BATMAN theme.

    Now we are three.

  4. Gareth says:

    I thought both the la and ny times’ to have charmingly simple tidy themes. It’s always lovely when the members of a set form symmetrical pairs as in the ny times!

  5. RK says:

    NYT puzzles first few days of the week are way too easy which takes a lot of fun out of it. LAT too.

  6. Brad Wilber says:

    Hi, everybody –

    My B.E. Wilbered themeless for July just posted to Island of Lost Puzzles in the Forum section. Two sets of clues, as usual, depending on your desired difficulty. I hope it’s fun –

    Brad

  7. Martin says:

    Sam writes:

    “Since these [CrosSynergy] puzzles usually get made months in advance …”

    That’s correct, Sam. For example, the CS puzzle I’ll be constructing this week is scheduled for early November.

    -MAS

  8. ArtLvr says:

    Echoing congrats on the debuts — nicely done! I was also pleased to get the BEQ okay, for a change… As for the DROOLS, they seem to be more frequent lately? Slightly yucky, but never mind: think of cute babies rather than GEEZERS.

  9. Ethan says:

    Funny that you mention the absence of the definite article, because in the first ever Batman comic he’s actually called The Batman. http://goldenagecomics.org/wordpress/2009/03/08/the-year-of-the-bat-part-2/
    I learned this visiting Geppi’s Museum in Baltimore, MD!

  10. mitchs says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the BEQ Easter egg.

  11. Dan F says:

    Indeed. That’s hilarious.

  12. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Did yesterday’s Sunday puzzles belatedly. Re Kevin’s World’s Fair puzzle, was anyone else baffled by the convoluted clued for “einer”, 9d — a fill in the blank from the German translation, of a Russian piece, Mussorgski’s Kartinki, or “Pictures from an Exhibition.” It wasn’t a difficult clue, but a strange one. (Small aside — Mussorgski is pronounced, in Russian MOO s’rkski, with a strong stress on the ‘first’ syllable.

  13. pannonica says:

    Bruce, I found that clue extremely odd as well.

  14. Martin says:

    There aren’t any great clues for EINER. There’s “Juniper, in Oslo.” This clue was pretty much “Random German word, easy for Bruce.”

  15. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Loved Mike Shenk’s Post Puzzler yesterday. In fact, when I greet someone casually, I often say “Hit here.”

  16. Huda says:

    Martin, re a clue for einer, how about ” In — Nacht” or “Es geschah in — Nacht” (It Happened One Night). I think it would be easier for it to become crosswordese, because of the reference to something Americans would know.

  17. Martin says:

    Huda,

    I got it from the published clue but wouldn’t have from one of those. I guess not all Americans know the same things.

  18. Jeff Chen says:

    Hear hear, kudos to two excellent debuts!

  19. M.A. says:

    Still can’t find that easter egg.

  20. joon says:

    MA, read the four consecutive across entries starting with 47.

  21. Melvin says:

    Did it bother anyone else that PCP is a dissociative even though it is referred to as a psychedelic in BEQ?

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