Monday, 12/3/12

NYT 3:35 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:21 (pannonica) 
CS 4:01 (Sam) 
BEQ untimed 

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

NYT • 12/3/12 • Mon • Michaels • 1203 • solution

Not entirely sure if I’ve got the theme right here. As with last week’s Monday, there are just three theme answers, although this one’s total 41 squares versus a mere 37 in its predecessor. In today’s offering, each is a two-word phrase beginning with the name of a US State.

  • 20a. [Jackie Gleason's role in "The Hustler"] MINNESOTA FATS.
  • 38a. [Common sushi orders] CALIFORNIA ROLLS.
  • 58a. [Cigarette associated with women's tennis] VIRGINIA SLIMS. I believe said relationship is historical but not current.

Okay, states. Easy enough to see. The second word in each is one syllable and ends in -s. In context, they’re plurals, but I may be wrong about the first one, FATS. I think it is, but it functions as a descriptive personal epithet. I guess you can call someone who’s tough “Nails” (which is unquestionably a noun), and “Fats”—at least to my mind—is a correlate.

Beyond that observation, here’s where the message really gets 47a MIXED for me. Perhaps primed by MIXED’s symmetrical partner at 30a, [Fifth tire] SPARE, I see how FATS and SLIMS could be related to each other in terms of weight gain or loss. With that in mind, plus the SPARE tire imagery, it isn’t difficult to conceive of ROLLS of fat. But that can’t really be the theme because it doesn’t hold together well enough.

So. My inclination at this point is to conclude that I’m overthinking it all, that it’s nothing more complicated than three phrases that start with the names of US states. Okay? Okay! Done? Don— oh, I have to write some more about the crossword.

It’s a pangram, but it doesn’t feel particularly forced or that it suffers for the achievement. The longish verticals are “GODSPELL” and LIFE VEST, both fine entries.

Further:

  • The elusive TWOL llama.
    Original photo © Susan Torres

    CHUCK Norris and JESSE Ventura in the same puzzle? What a way to start the week.

  • ZOOM IN, SEEN IT, USE TO (partial), EYE OF (partial), COME TO, NOT BE (partial), NO I (partial). “I SAY” indeed!
  • Speaking of which, 29d [Londoner, e.g.] BRIT, followed by 31d [Small coins for 29-Downs] PENCE. And from there we find 15a [Multinational currency] EURO, and 24a [Kyoto currency] YEN.
  • Slightly awkward UNSHY and UNITER [Minister, e.g., at weddings].
  • 26d [Like Ogden Nash's llama vis-à-vis a lama].

Okay, roughly average Monday.

Updated Monday morning:

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Feature Feature”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, December 3

Today’s puzzle honors four female celebrities noted for certain body parts that come in pairs:

  • 20-Across: ANGELINA JOLIE is the [Oscar winner with famous lips] (two lips). I’m equally entranced by her eyes, but her right leg is a bit of a media hog.
  • 36-Across: BETTY GRABLE is the [1940s actress/dancer with famous legs] (two legs). I’m convinced that The Flintstones character Betty Rubble is named for her.
  • 42-Across: DOLLY PARTON is the [Singer/songwriter with a famous bosom] (two breasts). Does anyone else fit this clue?
  • 58-Across: KIM KARDASHIAN is the [Reality star with a famous bottom] (two cheeks, though perhaps “cheeks with a case of the mumps” is more apt here). When I use “star” and “famous” to describe Kim Kardashian, a little piece of me dies.

Rats–only one second separated me from a Roger Bannister solving time. I think I lost two seconds misspelling Kim Kardashian’s last name. For some reason I thought there was another H in there somewhere. Had I stuck with phonetics, I might have cracked the four-minute mark.

Favorite entry = FREE TIBET, the [Rallying cry of an Asian independence movement with the same name]. Why settle for ON SALE TIBET or DEEPLY DISCOUNTED TIBET when FREE TIBET is just around the corner? Favorite clue = [Former Cambodian leader with a palindromic name] for LON NOL. Never noticed all the despots with palindromic names before. IDI Amin, LON NOL, and RELTIH HITLER.

Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s review

LAT • 12/3/12 • Mon • Bain • 1203 • solution

Solving roughly top to bottom, the first themer I got was 17a [Hollywood] TINSELTOWN. “Oh,” I mutterthought to myself, “it’s a Christmas theme.” Then the next one fell, 24a [Outdoor seating option] CANE CHAIR, at which point I was metaphorically distracted by the shiny object of consonance: first T-T, then C-C.

But alas, it is a Christmas theme. And so it begins. At least this one has a specificity to it, as explained by the 13-letter answer in the center of Row Eight: 34a [Festive centerpiece adorned with the starts of 17-, 24-, 49- and 57-Across] CHRISTMAS TREE.

The other two are [All the details, casually] BALL OF WAX, which harkens to 1d [Most current news, with "the"] LATEST, and [Venezuelan natural wonder] ANGEL FALLS, famously the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall (aka Salto Ángel, aka Kerepakupai Vená).

I realize this isn’t an expansive 21×21 grid, that it has no fancy Gorskian bilateral symmetry suggesting the A-FRAME (55a) shape of a CHRISTMAS TREE, but nevertheless it’s a weeny bit irksome that the ANGEL is at the very bottom here. And, it FALLS! Eek! Actually, perhaps that bit of anarchy is good. Did you keen boys and girls spot the weihnachtsgurk? It’s at 42-across. Stretching the idea further, how about the TRE magi (29a), visiting the MANAGER (21a), near the TENNERNbaum (9d)? No? Okay, you’re right. I’ll stop.

Blogging Stuffers:

  • Stacked longish downs: ROSEANNE (Barr) and INTRIGUE—two things I’d never think to associate with each other; the perennially-impossible-for-me-to-remember-how-to-spell Nadia COMANECI and HAULED UP (e.g., on charges).
  • 63a [Pub game] DARTS, innit?
  • New-to-me clue for NGO, usually described as the acronym for non-governmental organization, but here ["Stop-__": UGK hit], which means the answer makes sense as N-GO. And who are UGK? I know it can’t be Urge Overkill, so it’s off to the internets…ah! Underground Kingz, a Southerrn gangsta rap duo founded in the late 1980s. They two kings.
  • I completely pathologized the clue for 28d [Drinks in the a.m.]; turns out to be the harmless OJS.
  • 52a [Group of eight] Would it be OCTET or OCTAD? OCTET or OCTAD? The suspense was bearable and not killing me. OCTAD. Such is the tao of crosswords.

Surprisingly fun puzzle.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQfest 12 3 12 answers

The puzzle doesn’t usually feature something my kid wants for Christmas. He hasn’t been asking for AUTO PARTS or an IPAD (he has access to his parents’ as well as using one in the classroom), but he’d love some BEATS BY DR. DRE headphones. Terrific, fresh entry. Also? TSBYDRDR is a stellar run of letters.

I wonder if Brendan considered CHASE UTLEY at 1a instead of CHASE FIELD, which I know nothing about other than that it was the first retractable-roof baseball stadium in the country. Crosswords, they teach. (Crosswords, after all, are the reason I have heard of Chase Utley.)

Highlights:

  • CONCORDE supplementing its dull generic, SST.
  • The SCARLET LETTER.
  • DOUBLE-SPACES is solid, but don’t term papers usually need to be double-spaced anyway? I was thinking [Pads out, as a term paper] would be TRIPLE-SPACES WITH 1.5″ MARGINS.
  • PEABO Bryson! “If Ever You’re In My Arms Again” is one of my very favorite schmaltzy love songs from 1984. (“Let’s Hear It for the Boy” wins the title for favorite schmaltzy upbeat pop song of 1984. I bet Brendan and I have an astonishing degree of overlap in musical tastes, amirite?)
  • FORD DEALER makes me sad. The not-inconveniently-located dealership where I bought my FUSION ([Word with Asian or jazz]) went out of business and it’s a schlep to the ‘burbs for the next closest FORD DEALER. I will be trying a neighborhood shop for that AUTO PART I need put on my car, and I won’t be able to finagle it for free.
  • “AYE, CAPTAIN” is, of course, a brief excerpt from the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song.
  • BABA BOOEY means less to me than CHASE FIELD, but it’s an inherently entertaining crossword entry.
  • BLAGO! If I had a nickel for every time I have accidentally typed “Brendan Quigley’s blgo crossword” and thought of Blago, I reckon I would have over a dollar by now.

Meh countdown: 10. Plural TNTS. 9. Partial A POKE. 8. Star I learned from crosswords ALTAIR. 7. Old Latin hymn title word IRAE. 6. Old English hymn title word E’EN. 5. Adjective I never need EELY. 4. Crosswordese EFT. 3. KARR, [Evil "Knight Rider" vehicle] I never heard of. 2. Crossword man ELIA. 1. Abbr. dir. ENE.

3.5 stars and an appreciative DAP to Brendan.

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21 Responses to Monday, 12/3/12

  1. Niemand says:

    “It’s a pangram, but it doesn’t feel particularly forced or that it suffers for the achievement.”

    No? How about ONER (ugh), EYE OF, NOT BE, NO I, ROC, UNSHY (??), TWO-L, INI, ERAT, USE TO, and the duplicating quintet of AS ONE, ONER, UNO, UNA and UNITED?

    That’s an average Monday now?

    • andrea carla michaels says:

      Ciao, @Niemand! Rather than ZOOMIN on those, why not smile at ZEST, FARRAH, FACADE , FUGUE, CHUCK, GODSPELL, JESSE, MIXED, GOYA and ending on the sweet KISSED?

      One can concentrate on the negative or get some amusement over the contrast of MINNESOTA FATS vs VIRGINIA SLIMS. Or that JESSE crosses his own state (where I grew up)

      But I can see some of your points…I’m as UNSHY as they come, and now discovered it’s not even good in Scrabble :(
      So I’ll not be using that again!
      And if I could have found something other than EYEOF for E—F, I’d have used it!
      And I’ll concede on the string of ONEs, which I did not see. Good catch!

      Only one letter was altered in the grid… EOE/TOOL was changed to EWE/TWOL.
      I didn’t know what the heck TWOL was till I read the new clue, which I love and total improvement over EOE :)

      Hope others will enjoy it more!

  2. Ethan says:

    Would have liked to see UNITER clued as “I’m a ___, not a divider”: George W. Bush. It would have been a very easy clue, yes, but also would have made an awkward entry fresh and awesome.

  3. Evad says:

    @Ethan, I was always hoping NUCULAR would make it into a xword for a similar reason.

  4. Howard B says:

    The theme is simply “[state] [plural word ending in S]“.
    For the word lengths and limitations, it seems to be a bit tighter theme than at first glance, especially if you discount team names. Light, fun puzzle to start the week, appreciated since I don’t often have the chance to solve Mondays anymore.

  5. Papa John says:

    Since I didn’t get any answer from them that knows, I’ll ask again:

    Why don’t all these .puz puzzles that have been disapperaing simply charge a fee? NYT has been doing it for a very long time and it seems to work for them.

    • Gareth says:

      I thought many are? The NY Sun is now the subscription Fireball. The AV Club is now a subscription-only puzzle.

      • Papa John says:

        Yeah, but is the Fireball in .puz format? The AV Club is recent and it sort of makes my point. It can be done. Ben Tausig says they’re on their way to collecting $20K. Not bad…yes?

        At one time, I was doing 5-7 .puz puzzles a day. Now it’s more like 2-3, with weekend puzzles dropping like flies. That most of them were gratis was cool, but I would be more than willing to kick in a few bucks to keep them coming and reward the constructors, et al, their just dues.

        Yes, some of them are available online, or can be downloaded in .pdf format or to be solved with Crossword Solver. I’m talking about keeping them in .puz and available at all our usual, friendly, puzzle-providing sites.

        I know Hook reads these postings and, I suspect, HEX and others read it, too. Merl Reagle probably does. All of them have been involved in the elimination of the .puz puzzles. I’d like to hear from some of those folks, although they certainly aren’t obliged to. Amy, maybe you know more to this story than you’ve already told us and could provide some answer. Anybody?

  6. Gareth says:

    I like Andrea’s puzzle a lot more after Howard’s post! It’s a logical way to get Monday difficulty: eschewing tough names at the expense of a few partials and contrived answers…

    FWIW, I loath Christmas. Spent last one reading my book on a park bench until I concluded that the family had finished all their malarkey… At least I’ll be working this time!

  7. Torbach says:

    An enjoyable solve for me – a nice Monday, with the bonus of all those 6-letter entries in the NW & SE. Also, I missed ACME’s last NYT on the day so am happy to comment on this one. I like a pangram, do not mind UNA/UNO in the least and actively appreciated the colloquial nature of many of the partial/phrase-y entries – like Andrea, it was not boring!

    Fyi, below is a mini-themed themeless from yours truly that ran in the Sun a few years ago (8/28/08) – why didn’t ACME and I join forces on this in the first place?

    D A B O M B. S K E T C H Y
    I S I D O R E .R E V E R I E
    S P O I L E R .T R I S E C T
    M I N N E S O T A F A T S
    A R I .T S E .U N E S C O
    L E C A R .A L F .D I R K
    G E T A L I F E .D A R
    S L E A Z E S. A L I B A B A
    T I X. A D H E R E N T
    A S I F .N E W. S U S H I
    B A T E A U.A R M .T A M
    V I R G I N I A S L I M S
    C H I N N E D. B L U E F L U
    S I S T I N E .S T E A L E R
    T E A S E T S .S T P E T E

    • Did I know you in 2008?!? I happily would have! Rex mentioned NEWYORKDOLLS 12 which I like…not exactly with the theme I had in mind, but close enough…we’d need one more 12!

    • pannonica says:

      gently reformatted version:

      D A B O M B ■ ■ S K E T C H Y
      I S I D O R E ■ R E V E R I E
      S P O I L E R ■ T R I S E C T
      M I N N E S O T A F A T S ■ ■
      A R I ■ ■ T S E ■ U N E S C O
      L E C A R ■ ■ A L F ■ D I R K
      ■ ■ ■ G E T A L I F E ■ D A R
      S L E A Z E S ■ A L I B A B A
      T I X ■ A D H E R E N T ■ ■ ■
      A S I F ■ N E W ■ ■ S U S H I
      B A T E A U ■ A R M ■ ■ T A M
      ■ ■ V I R G I N I A S L I M S
      C H I N N E D ■ B L U E F L U
      S I S T I N E ■ S T E A L E R
      T E A S E T S ■ ■ S T P E T E

  8. Lemonade714 says:

    Gareth:

    TSA
    SRTA
    SERTA
    SENTRA

    One of my unfinished puzzle ideas was a theme where a letter was added to create the next theme word.

    Too late again

  9. Papa John says:

    Thanks, Jeffrey. I don’t know how that got under my radar.

    This looks like another example of .puz for profit working out just fine.

  10. sbmanion says:

    The Hustler is one of my all-time favorite movies. The story was that Jackie Gleason was a good pool player. All of the trick shots in the movie were made by the great Willie Mosconi. Rudolf Wanderone claimed that the Gleason character was based on his life and thereafter adopted the name from the movie. The Wikipedia article on Minnesota Fats (Wanderone) gives no hint as to the contempt that Rudolf Wanderone was generally held in by serious pool players–a mediocre high school athlete competing against pros–at least in the literature I have read and in discussions with some world class players.

    Steve

    • pannonica says:

      It’s one of mine as well. In addition to a great screenplay, all the performances are stellar: Scott, Laurie, Newman, McCormick. One of the best parts of the film is the abundance of exquisite and masterful visual compositions, so many of them triangular. And the lighting! Cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan won an Oscar for his work.

  11. pannonica says:

    So, no one cared for my Photoshop effort? >theatrical pout<

Comments are closed.