Monday, 11/19/12

NYT 3:54 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:28 (pannonica) 
CS 5:10 (Sam) 
BEQ untimed 

Paul Guttormsson’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review

NYT • 11/19/12 • Mon • Guttormsson • 1119 • solution

Took me a bit to isolate, to quantify exactly what the theme is here. It’s kind of a loose, impressionistic thing: words with a second syllable consisting of A, preceded by one that ends with -CK. It’s more than simply words containing CKA, which would ironically be more tenuous.

  • 16a. ["My little __" (W.C. Fields phrase)] CHICKADEE. Not only that, but it’s the title of a 1940 movie he made with Mae West, their only collaboration.
  • 24a. [Broncobuster] BUCKAROO.
  • 37a. [Lazy] LACKADAISICAL.
  • 51a. [New York City suburb near Yonkers] TUCKAHOE. See also 64a TAHOE.
  • 62a. [I Heart __"] 2004 film] HUCKABEES.
  • 15d. [Early Elvis style] ROCKABILLY.
  • 23d. [Nutso] COCKAMAMIE.

See? It isn’t just the A thing, hence no SLUGABED or the like. It isn’t that they all end in doubled vowels (à la 16a, 24a, or 62a), or just two vowels (51a, 23d), because LACKADAISICAL casually puts the kibosh on that theory and ROCKABILLY thrums the point home. They aren’t hyphenated (although some may have started out that way), but they do feel a bit syncopated. Hence my choice to describe the theme as loose and impressionistic even though it’s possible to characterize it rigorously, albeit skeletally.

Did I act the cock-a-hoop upon discovering the theme, such as it is? Not really. Do I dislike the theme for its perceived wispiness? No, it’s fine. Also, seven theme entries is quite a lot for a 15×15 grid, even if they’re predominantly of moderate length.

 Miscellanea:

  • OH-OH, HEH HEH, LULU. (19a, 2d, 37d)
  • Callback to yesterday’s NYT with 68a [V : five :: X : __ ] TEN. [edit: It's the Hex/Hook—which is in reality from six weeks ago. I reviewed it today (Sunday) and apparently I'm losing my mind.]
  • Some less businesslike clues for a Monday offering, including 36a [Like some stares … or stairs in the winter] ICY (crossing HOTLY, by the way), 9d [Intelligence group?] MENSA, 54a [Batted body part] EYELID, and 3d [Like bialys and lyonnaise sauce] ONIONY—check out that LY action!
  • 32a [Animal high on the evolutionary ladder] APE. Yeah, I have a huge problem with that clue.
  • Tinge of cognitive dissonance for me with 65a [Spanish doubloon material] for ORO. It’s a very English-oriented clue for an answer that wants the Spanish word for gold. The coin is spelled dublón in Spanish (although material is unhelpfully spelled exactly the same in both languages).

Low CAP Quotient™, good Monday. Nice to see a theme that hops to a slightly different beat.

Updated Monday morning:

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

CS solution, November 19

You’ll see a NOSE “around” each of the four theme entries, for each of them begins with NO- and ends with -SE:

  • 20-Across: NONSENSE VERSE describes both [Edward Lear works, e.g.] and many exam answers I get to read here at the end of the semester.
  • 27-Across: Something that’s [Not damaged, in a way] is said to be NONE THE WORSE. This is my favorite of the bunch.
  • 45-Across: I’ve never heard of the [Fragrant climbing flower] known as the NOISETTE ROSE. Is there much clamor about them?
  • 53-Across: NO GIFTS PLEASE is a [Birthday party request, maybe]. Not as it applies to my birthday, at least, but I suppose it can happen.

Working off the last E, I had ESCAPE for the [Computer key]. It turned out to be DELETE. How fitting, then, that I had to use that very key five consecutive times to correct the mistake.

Much to do this morning, so here’s a short enumeration of the highlights: I HOPE, YES I DO, STOP-GO, MADMAN, SPEEDO, and the Washington NATIONALS are great entries; I was less enamored with NO-NOS (only because a theme entry has NO in it already), and the use of both A SHOE and A NET (that too seems a-repetitive).

Favorite entry = TOSSPOT, the [Boozer] of (likely) British descent. Would that entry fail the Breakfast Test in England? Is it called the High Tea Test in England? These are things we need to know. Favorite clue = [Regular at Moe's] for HOMER Simpson.

Lila Cherry’s Los Angeles Times crossword (“really Rich” Norris’s byline)— pannonica’s review

This must have been an easy puzzle, as my finishing time was quite fast despite being groggy from a nap and taking a lackadaisical approach to the solve.

56-across is on the scene, revealing what links the three other theme answers: [Weather event where you'd hear the starts of 20-, 33- and 41-Across] THUNDERSTORM.

  • 20a. [One who can talk you to sleep] CRASHING BORE. Ah, but the collective noun crash is applied to rhinoceroses. And that for wild boar is sounder, and also, curiously, singular. English! Go figure.
  • 33a. [Audible sign of hunger] RUMBLING STOMACH. Originally had GROWLING filled in. This is an excellent moment to bring up one of my favorite words, borborygmus
  • 41a. [Flappers' decade] ROARING TWENTIES.

Straightahead theme, highlighted by a pair of 15-letter spanners in the middle of the grid. Nothing wow-inducing among the non-theme content. What was most salient to me during my logy solve is that the 4×3 corners in the southwest and northeast are essentially isolated from the main business of the puzzle; for each, a single square (part of a theme answer) is the sole access point. Such tenuousness could be a deadly design FLAW (9a) in a difficult crossword.

Not much more to say, but here are a few bullets:

  • Nice colloquial clue for 31a STOW IT ["That's enough out of you!"]
  • ESME, INGE, SNERD. Then REBA, BARA, RASA, MESA.
  • Linked answers, 19a [With 8-Down, really simple] EASY | AS ABC.
  • US-ONE, MT SINAI, MR BIG, NO MSG, AS ABC.
  • Cute(-ish) clue: 61d [First-aid aid] KIT.

Seems like an elevated CAP Quotient™ for an early-week puzzle, which is a double-edged sword. On the one hand this constructor’s crutch can in practice be off-putting to newer solvers, while on the other it can hasten the solve of solving veterans (which is probably while my time was surprisingly fast, even though I felt as if I was on auto-pilot).

Average Monday.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 11 19 12 solution

Oh! I forgot to blog.

Likes:

  • 1a. SIDE DISH, like those fries with curry gravy the other night. Yum.
  • 17a. R.A. DICKEY, ballplayer known for keeping a thesaurus in his locker. (Read Ben Zimmer’s Visual Thesaurus article about Dickey.
  • The crazy-to-parse-in-the-grid U.S. PASSPORT and MT. ARARAT.
  • [Summer or Autumn] cluing GIRL’S NAME. I know a Summer, and once met a little boy named Winter.
  • 25d. [Last word of the movie "Back to the Future"], ROADS. Fresh clue.
  • 30d. [It's beside the point] cluing the ONES PLACE.

Could do without:

  • SORER IPANA, or any kind of IPANA, really.

There’s a mild dupe with ONES PLACE and ONE-LINER, but I like how there’s a visual duplication with ONEDGE and ONEAL and NIXONERA without any actual ONEs.

3.5 stars. Pretty smooth for a 66-worder.

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7 Responses to Monday, 11/19/12

  1. No thanks says:

    If this is really the theme, then it may be the stupidest theme ever.

  2. Daniel Myers says:

    ICI and ICY make a nice – non Nice – pair.

  3. Angela says:

    The only “theme” I could think of is that most of the longer crossings contain the letter “K”.

  4. Matthew G. says:

    Surprised at the low average rating for today’s NYT. I thought this was much better than the average Monday. I would much rather have a “light” theme like this that puts a lot of crunchy words in the grid than a “tight” theme with a bunch of puns. Five stars from me (rating is relative to the usual fun-value of Mondays).

  5. Call me a muckamuck, but I dug the theme (and the fact there were six of them). Felt more exciting than an average Monday. And I do (achy-breaky) heart ROCKABILLY.

  6. Chris P. says:

    I agree with Matthew and Christopher – I really liked the NYT puzzle. ROCKABILLY, COCKAMAMIE, BUCKAROO, and LACKADAISICAL are all great fill, imo.

  7. John Lampkin says:

    Thumbs up. Seven colorful CK-A words with two double-crossing downers. This was not an easy construction. And on a Monday.

Comments are closed.