Monday, 8/13/12

NYT 2:44 
LAT 3:18 (pannonica) 
CS 7:09 (Sam) 
BEQ untimed 

Major announcement! We’ll be doing some site upgrades on Tuesday and Diary of a Crossword Fiend will be out of commission then. We appreciate your forbearance.

Gareth Bain’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 8 13 12 0813

Neat theme—with a Monday puzzle, it’s easy to finish the puzzle without having a clue what the theme is, and that’s exactly what I did. It even confused me beyond a Monday level when I tried to make sense of it. [What this crossword is, in a way?] is a MAKE-UP TEST? Wha…? Oh! OCEAN LINER, eyeliner or lipliner. MOULIN ROUGE, rouge. SOLID FOUNDATION, that base makeup stuff. COCOA POWDER, powder atop the foundation. I like the completely non-cosmetic slant to the theme answers as clued.

Gareth skews a little autobiographical, as usual, with some Africa/veterinary material. 40d is Burkina FASO, half a continent away from his home in South Africa. Then there’s 24d: GELD, or [Desex, as a stallion]. Gareth has a new job at an SPCA, gelding and spaying dogs and cats. You know you’re in business when the testicle’s on the floor, right? There’s also a [Heavy zoo critter], which can live in the wild in Africa—I want to know two things. First, do veterinarians neuter the RHINO? And if so, is there a special beast-specific word for the procedure?

I did not know that 4d: [Rhythm for a minuet or waltz] was TRIPLE TIME. It may come as no surprise to learn that I have never waltzed.

Did you notice the hidden HONESTY in the puzzle? Check out 11d bending into 27a.

Fairly standard Monday puzzle, quick solve, nothing out of the ordinary. That’s what Mondays are for, right? 3.75 stars.

Gerry Wildenberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s review

LAT • 8/13/12 • Mon • Wildenberg • solution

I positively flew through this puzzle. Don’t think I’m capable of typing any faster, so it’s pretty much the lower threshold of my Across Lite times. Early week puzzles are typically calibrated to be on the unchallenging side, ostensibly for newcomers, but honestly this felt far too easy.

The simple theme is words and phrases ending in rhymes with -ATCH.

  • 17a. [Br'er Rabbit's thicket] BRIAR PATCH. Don’t make me solve this puzzle! Anything but that!
  • 39a. [Dramatic grab in the outfield] SHOESTRING CATCH. Definitely metaphorical.
  • A study of drapery by Albrecht Dürer. (click to enlarge)

    59a. [Mark with intersecting sets of parallel lines] CROSSHATCH.

  • 10d. [Fight in a ring] BOXING MATCH. I hear the US women did much better than the men at the Olympics.
  • 25d. [Childproofing device] SAFETY LATCH.

 Obviously an extremely smooth and flowing puzzle. No rough spots, no turbulence. Anything remotely obscure or tricky was matched by decidedly non-daunting crosses. Those conceivably recondite entries include 1a OCCAM’S Razor, 36d OTTO I [10th century Roman emperor], 29d [Conservatory subj.] MUS. (music), 62d [Neurology subj.] CNS (central nervous system), 44a [Country singer Kathy] MATTEA.

Longer non-theme fill: SICILIAN pizza, RUN FOR IT.

Low CAP Quotient™ but there were too many abbrevs. for my liking. As I’ve mentioned more than once, though, there was nothing or barely anything to significantly slow one down while working the grid, not even said abbrevs.

No star rating, as is my wont. Natch.

Updated Monday morning:

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

The “beastly” in this puzzle’s title describes not only the theme but also my solving time. Call it the Monday Blues, but I couldn’t get any traction in this puzzle for what felt like forever (for those wondering, “forever” = about 35 seconds, give or take).

The theme involves animal puns–take expressions that begin with a homophone for an animal you might find in the woods and substitute the animal itself for the first word, then assign wacky clues to correspond with the new term. Et voila:

  • 17-Across: “Bare bones” becomes BEAR BONES, or [Illustrations in Yogi's anatomy book]. Props for the reference to Yogi Bear, one of my childhood staples and an under-appreciated cartoon character. Here’s Exhibit A in the case for Yogi (particularly the bit from 4:21 – 4:48).
  • 26-Across: “Links in a chain” becomes LYNX IN A CHAIN, a [Fettered feline?]. This was the last theme entry to fall for me, and I struggled with it only because I was expecting a two-word answer (all of the others have two words). I had CHAIN in place, but what kind of feline ends with -INA? My expectation for consistency and my inability to let it go certainly didn’t help with my solving time.
  • 47-Across: “Hairdressers” become HARE DRESSERS, [Where jack rabbits keep their clothes?]. I liked this one best.
  • 61-Across: [Where Bambi records his private thoughts?] is really nobody’s business, but if you have to know, it’s a DEER DIARY (a play on “Dear Diary”).

I got bogged down in the Colorado section of the grid. The whole conglomeration of SORREL, the [Coppery horse hue], PASEO, the [Path for promenaders], NEBraska, the [State with a border formed by the Missouri R.], and BE FIT–clued as [Comport with] instead of something more intuitive like [Live a healthy lifestyle]–proved to be a struggle for me. I also struggled with SHOE, the [Bit of "Diddle, Diddle, Dumpling" bedtime wear]. I take it this is a fairly common nursery rhyme that eluded my childhood.

As fill goes, there were some highlights, like TALK SHOW, DIFFUSE, CASH IN, I CAN’T and TRY IT. The combination of HI YA and HOWDY were interesting, too.

Time now for my entry in today’s installment of Name That Constructor Month. I can’t put my finger on it, but this puzzle has a feminine vibe to it. It’s not like any of the entries scream “estrogen” (everyone loves a TIARA), but there’s a lack of sports and an abundance of high culture (promenades, ROSSINI, AMOUR, and, most notably MEL Brooks). That’s the best I can do for explaining my hunch, and it’s all pretty flimsy. But I’m not going to suppress my gut instinct even if I have no logical reason to support it. So here goes:

1. Lynn Lempel. 2. Gail Grabowski. 3. Sarah Keller.

Whew! It’s good to know my gut doesn’t always let me down, even if it’s hanging down lower and lower as the years go by. TMI? Name That Constructor Stats After 13 Puzzles: 4 correct first choices (3 points each), 2 correct second choices (2 points each), 1 correct third choice (1 point each); 17 points total so far; score to beat = 15.5 points. Time for a new goal! I’m averaging over a point a day, but I have been getting lucky lately and doubt I can keep up that pace. So let’s adjust the goal to 30.5 points for the month. If I get nowhere close, I’ll just adjust it back down to 15.5 points and call it a success. It’s fun to make the rules as you go along.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 8/13/12

Let’s take a look at 10 items here:

  • 1a. [Where heavy metal was founded], STEEL MILL. Found is a verb related to foundry. Who knew? I never knew that meaning.
  • 15a. [Leave speechless], TONGUE-TIE. My nephew had tongue tie; until he had his lingual frenulum snipped, he couldn’t stick out his tongue.
  • 25a. ["Hard to believe, but they had it right the first time"], STET. Freshest clue I’ve ever seen for this stale entry.
  • 38a. [Collectible with an iron-on, perhaps], VINTAGE T. My husband has a great Sprite t-shirt that dates back to the early ’80s. It’s pretty much down to the molecular structure of the polyester, as the cotton has eroded away over the decades.
  • 51a. ["Dagnabbit"], BY GUM. Do you say either of these? I’m more inclined to say “dagnabbit.”
  • 64a. [What this is], SEED ENTRY. So meta.
  • 26d. [Competition for floor space?], TWISTER. I can’t remember the last time I played Twister.
  • 39d. [Digestif that is made after the first frost], ICE WINE. The freezing concentrates the sugars in the grape. I bought this Cabernet Franc ice wine last summer in Niagara-by-the-Lake because it blew my mind in the tasting room. Pop a little morsel of dark chocolate into your mouth and let it melt, then take a sip of the 2007 wine. Boom! It’s like you’re eating a chocolate-dipped strawberry. It’s time to open that bottle, isn’t it? Tonight!
  • 43d. [Trustafarian living in a squalid apartment with seven other people, say], SLUMMER. Is this trustafarian‘s first use in a crossword?
  • 58d. [Subj. in the classics], LAT. Latin, not latissimus dorsi.

Also nice: GIRL FROM IPANEMA, HANGOVER opposite ANTACIDS, CASH CAB, and IT CAN’T BE.

3.75 stars.

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21 Responses to Monday, 8/13/12

  1. Huda says:

    I thought it was delightful! Specifically because I had no idea what the theme was while I was solving and then the lovely reveal and suddenly everything came together, all polished up and gorgeously pretty!

    Now, Gareth, a teeny lesson for you– the FOUNDATION comes first. And this girl still needs some shadow and some lipstick to round it all out.

    I liked REDS and EYING, they go with the theme, whereas WARTY and RATTY provide a great counterpoint.

    ON THE WHOLE, a very lovely Monday! ENCORE!

  2. Bruce N. Morton says:

    The last comments from last night leave me still confused: Is it tears as in “rends,” or tears as in “lachrymae”?

  3. loren smith says:

    Terrific puzzle, Gareth, with nothing to gripe about AT aLL!

    Amy – neat observation on HONESTY. I wish I had noticed that. Of course then I sniffed around the grid looking for other ’round the corner stuff and found nothing. Well, how ’bout TRIPLETIMEASE – an enzyme that works three times faster than others?

    Huda – I got the theme late, too, and totally agree with your statements. Absolutely delightful puzzle. One difference for me, though – concealer has to come before the FOUNDATION lest I frighten small children.

  4. Jenni says:

    Bruce, it’s “tears” as in “rends”. Someone commented yesterday about old movies, and that rings true to me – I can see a man with a fedora, photographed in black-and-white, saying “That tears it!” as he hangs up the phone.

    Anyway.

    Loved today’s puzzle. I figured out the theme when I got to FOUNDATION and I confidently filled in the revealer as MAKEUPCASE, and then of course had to take out CASE and put in TEST. Duh. I like Gareth’s answer much better than mine. Very nice. I own all that stuff and wear it about three times a year, so it sits in its CASE most of the time.

  5. ArtLvr says:

    Congrats, Gareth! Very enjoyable puzzle… I like a rock clue with Brian since I learned to link the last N with the middle of ENO, but I still need a crossing word to get an ELO or EMO!

  6. Jan (danjan) says:

    Loved Gareth’s puzzle! It made me smile, remembering taking my then 4-year-old to ballet class on a different day for a “makeup class”. On the way there, she asked, “Mommy, when do we get to put on the makeup?” I really hated to answer that question and burst her bubble (and probably let her put some on later).

  7. Victor Barocas says:

    Liked the NYT a lot except for my horrible disappointment in discovering, after MOULINROUGE and OCEANLINER, that the theme was not LINSANITY.

  8. Gareth says:

    Thanks for the kind words, guys!

    @Jenni, I actually kind of like your revealer… That was the last part of the puzzle to fall into place.

  9. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Just did Bob Klahn’s Challenge, and loved it BUT–(and here I really am yelling in all caps–***Kiev is not a Russian city***It never was a Russian city, even during Soviet days, and it never will be. I cannot believe that this mistake keeps reappearing in puzzle after puzzle, (sometimes with other cities, such as Baku.) I wish crossword editors could be sentenced to write 500 times on the blackboard

    Kiev is a Ukrainian, not a Russian city.

    I don’t know whether I’m more amazed at the reappearance of the mistake, or the fact that no one called it out in the comments (so far as I can see.) This mistake angers both Russians and Ukrainians. To them it is completely on a par with calling Washington D.C. a Canadian city and Ottawa a United States city.

    I even have a tale about the same blunder by a (one-time only) faculty member in the Moscow Summer comparative law program I directed for years. She should have known better, and upon reflection, she did, but the damage was done. She drafted an exam question — (as you may know, law exams tend to feature long, convoluted hypothetical facts) — involving some fine points of international financial regulation. Unfortunately she located some of the events of the problem in Kiev, and recited that “the Russian police arrested. . .[several of the people involved].”

    Most of the years we had Russian students attending our (English language) classes, either auditing, or taking them for credit in their Russian legal education. All the Russian students focussed on the fact that Russian police have no authority to arrest anyone in Kiev, and assumed that the principal focus of the question were the issues generated by this unauthorized, ultra vires police activity. Needless to say, the teacher hadn’t intended any such issues, and this bollixed up the question to a massive degree.

  10. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Uh, Bruce … Kiev was part of the Russian Empire in 1898 when Golda Meir was born.

  11. pannonica says:

    In a much less significant discrepancy than Bruce‘s about Kiev in the Klahn puzzle, I’ll highlight an inaccuracy in the BEQ clue for GIRL FROM IPANEMA [1964 hit with the lyric "she looks straight ahead, not at me," with "The"].

    While some versions of the song may use the pronoun me, the one specified (which is also the most famous, arguably the best loved, and probably the most authoritative) is that by Stan Getz and João Gilberto.

    Gilberto sings the first verse in Portuguese, Getz’s tenor saxophone takes the second, then Astrud Gilberto sings the third in English, followed by Carlos Jobim’s piano, and finally the fifth is a reprisal by Astrud Gilberto. In her verses, she sings in the third person and observes “…she looks straight ahead, not at he,” which is ungrammatical but works. It’s possible that she says “him” with a long e sound and an imperceptible m, but it’s certain that whichever it is, it starts with an h.

  12. Gareth says:

    But wasn’t Kiev the capital of the Russian Empire once? I mean way back in 14 footsack when the Mongols had captured Moscow? Most European geography is fluid like that…

  13. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Yes, it was part of the Russian empire, so perhaps I should relent, but I don’t think it should be called a Russian City. Of course Russia imposed political authority and much of its culture on the Ukraine, but I think Kiev was a Russian city only in the sense that Delhi was a British city during the Raj.

  14. loren smith says:

    I just dnf BEQ’s (only had to google NEELY, and that opened it up for me). Oh, and the heads up about THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA didn’t hurt, but I usually get that one.

    I liked that LAT and PEC were so close. With ANTACIDS, I really wanted “gas” instead of AN O! Loved the cluing for HANGOVER, STET, and I’M EASY. DAZE right above BLAZE – how elegant. Also liked the HANGOVER/HOW SAD cross and IT CAN’T BE sharing the grid with IT IS SO.

    LIN reminded me of Gareth’s; someone else at Rex said it – early on I was looking for some kind of LIN theme with OCEAN LINER and MOULIN ROUGE.

    Great puzzle, BEQ! You had me at CASH CAB!

  15. mmespeer says:

    Help on BEQ’s….orkan? for “Orson, famously” I can only think of Orson Welles. Google didn’t help.

  16. loren smith says:

    mmespeer – Wasn’t he a friend of Mork’s from the planet Ork? Or Mork’s boss, maybe?

  17. mmespeer says:

    @loren smith, That’s probably it. I don’t remember much from that sitcom, but that would seem to fit. Thanks.

  18. Michael says:

    Bruce, Amy and Gareth are all correct about Kiev… but it still doesn’t make it a Russian city (Soviet – yes). Here’s more than you ever wanted to know – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kievan_Rus

  19. RK says:

    And Chicken Kiev is French.

  20. Lois says:

    Boy, was I shocked just now when I opened Crossword Fiend. What happened to orange? What happened to the perfect site, which had been superseding all others for me? I guess there’s not that much difference from before, but it’s all too big. I like to see everything at once. I used “View” to make things smaller, but there’s a lot of space between contributions. And I hate having to manipulate anything. That’s why I don’t often visit the Times blog lately, except for Deb.

    Did I miss the discussion of the redesign because of the Olympics? Can someone tell me when the discussion took place, or hasn’t it yet? Is this all because of the problems the site had last week?

    Maybe I’ll get used to it. Amy and Dave, thanks for everything anyway.

  21. Karen says:

    “Mork calling Orson, come in Orson.”

    It looks like the crossword times section has bit the dust. Too bad.

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