Monday, January 14, 2013

NYT 3:08 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:11 (pannonica) 
BEQ 3:44 
CS 4:50 (Sam) 

Steve Salmon’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review

NYT • 1/14/13 • Mon • Salmon • solution

My favorite part of this puzzle by far is the reveal at 56a-across [Apocalyptic warning … or a hint to 20-, 33- and 42-Across] THE END IS NEAR. You see, each of those answers end in the letters -NEAR. I don’t mean to say the rest of the puzzle or the theme itself is slouchy, it’s just that the deadpan literalness, the perfectness, of that phrase is exponentially superlative.

  • 20a. [Listening] LENDING AN EAR.
  • 33a. [Like the street grid of Midtown Manhattan] RECTILINEAR. Nice one-word entry,
  • 42a. [Oscar nominee for "As Good as It Gets"] GREG KINNEAR.

Good variation of the letter quartet: one standalone NEAR, two tail ends of longer words, and one split à la N EAR. I mean, it isn’t as if there are tons (or any) answers that end –NEA R or –NE AR. Perhaps there’s a town in Arkansas that ends in -NE, but that abbrev. wouldn’t be so pretty and I doubt it’d be worth inclusion.

  • Answers for which I was rueful for the Monday clues: 9d SET A [ __ good example]. 36d MGMT [Bosses, collectively: Abbr.]
  • AEC across in the center? [Nuclear agency established by H.S.T.] Ick.
  • Aside from TY COBB, NO DICE, and maybe WANNABE or BAKERY, the fill throughout this puzzle is very unremarkable, dull as TOAST(S). Acutely bland. So perhaps, in the end, the puzzle is kinda slouchy. Still really like that revealer, though.

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

LAT • 1/13/13 • Mon • Grabowski, Venzke • solution

This seems such an obvious theme that I would have thought it’d been done before. Perhaps it has? In reverse order:

  • 55a. [Information superhighway whose abbreviation inspired this puzzle's theme] WORLD WIDE WEB. That is, the four long theme answers are three-word phrases in which each word begins with W.
  • 40a. [2000 Mel Gibson film] WHAT WOMEN WANT.
  • 33a. ["But it was working when I left!"] WHAT WENT WRONG?
  • 20a. ["Just lookee here"] WELL, WELL, WELL.

I really appreciate how the quotes in the clues for 20a and 33a impart just the right tone for their answers. Rather unsatisfying to have the WHAT repeated, at the beginnings of two consecutive themers, no less! And now for an aspect of the puzzle that  gives me pause. In my write-up of yesterday’s Hex/Hook I called out a certain non-theme answer (DREGS) for being what I felt awkwardly cross-referenced to one of the theme entries (BOTTOM OF THE BARREL), but I don’t have the same reaction to 34d in this puzzle: [Start of a 55-Across address] HTTP. Perhaps because here it’s more explicitly, more necessarily tied to the concept? It seems to be a gray area which I’ve nevertheless subjectively struck a line through.

Three clues/answers clonked for me during the solve:

  • 5a [Certain PC laptops] IBMS. As has been noted before, Lenovo acquired IBM’s personal computer division back in 2005 and subsequent machines have had the Lenovo name. Considering the relatively short life cycle of most personal computers, there are probably very few IBM laptops in use these days.
  • 28a [Genie's offering] WISH. Well, doesn’t the genie grant a wish or three? I can imagine or remember hearing a (fictional) genie say something like, “I’ll give you three wishes,” so I can see where the clue is coming from, and in fact the more I’m writing about it the less ambiguous it seems, but my initial take was very much of the cognitive dissonance variety.
  • 43a [Most shiny, as a car] WAXIEST. That adjective, especially in this context, conjures up the image of a cloudy haze. First one must clean the car, perhaps giving it a gentle SCRUB (9a), then the wax must be applied, which after a short while clouds up, then one must 57a [Use a rag on] WIPE it into and from the surface, to impart that sheeny aspect. So a car that has been waxed the most will probably be the shiniest, but the car that is WAXIEST is unlikely to be so. Verbs, adjectives. Perhaps I’m being too reflective on the technicalities?
  • Oh, a fourth, possibly. In my mind, a [Sold-out amount] is more like ALL rather than NONE. NONE are available because they’ve all been sold. (35d)

The overall fill is set and clued at Monday level, with some fun bits including “I KNEW IT,” WHAM-O, LIMPID, WAXIEST, XANADU, and KOOK. Dated 80s vibe with actress GLESS [Sharon of "Cagney & Lacey"] and [Comic Smirnoff] YAKOV. Crossword knee-jerks with [Lake bordering Oh—] ERIE! [Gumbo v—] OKRA!

Still, a pretty good puzzle. Apologies if this was a wishy-washy writeup.

Updated Monday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Gridiron Grid”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, January 14

Fresh off an intense weekend of playoff football comes today’s puzzle dedicated to three forms of FOOTBALL TYPEs (50-Across). The first word in each of the other theme entries is a form of American football:

  • 20-Across: [Subtle elegance] is a TOUCH OF CLASS, and “touch football” is a friendly version of the game.
  • 36-Across: To [Do some hailing at the curb] is to FLAG A TAXI. I played “flag football” a couple times in college, and I remember coming away injured every time. In fairness, that’s pretty much true for every sport I play.
  • 41-Across: One thing about a TACKLE BOX, [It may be full of flies]. Say hello to my favorite clue from this puzzle! Oh, and there’s “tackle football,” the kind the big boys and the big girls play.

I like how the forms of football get progressively more aggressive as we work our way from top to bottom. That’s a TOUCH OF CLASS right there.

So while we’re on the subject of playoff football…. On Saturday night by wife and I had dinner at a sports bar and enjoyed the Baltimore-Denver game. Toward the end of that game, we saw some Packers fans trickling into the bar so they could watch the next game. This included a family of four all decked out in jerseys from their favorite players. We firmly believe that the son was about 17 and the daughter was maybe 14, yet they sat at the bar with their parents and the other patrons. Is this legal where you live? I’m sure the kids had nothing more powerful than a root beer, and I’m not casting any judgment. I just thought minors couldn’t even be in a bar, or at least they had to be in a restaurant section of a bar. But these kids were sitting at the bar. I’ve never seen such a thing, but then again I’m used to living in the Pacific Northwest where things are a little sheltered.

Back to the puzzle. We have a pangram here, but the fill feels easy, not forced. The only entries that smack of “we’re here just to facilitate something else” are WISC and ITE. Still, there’s not much here that jumps out as especially fresh or lively.

Favorite entry = STRATEGY, the [Risk player's asset]. Favorite clue = See above. But if you want another, how about [Groupon member, e.g.] for SAVER. Here’s a case where a clue can dress up an otherwise so-so entry.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ Themeless Monday answers, 1 14 13

Easy for the rest of you, too? Usually Brendan’s themelesses take me somewhere in the 5- to 7-minute range, not a “what is this, the CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge?” sub-4.

Nice grid, what with those two 4×9 corners. Do you like the All Geographic, All the Time vibe of the REYKJAVIK, AMERICANA, HIMALAYAN, ALEUTIANS stack? I do. I also like RICH UNCLE (my mom had a rich step-uncle who made his money in shopping malls), ECHINACEA, KEELS OVER, NAIL SALON, and KANSAS CITY. I really, truly could do without the whole ERMAHGERD meme. It’s supposed to be … funny? The humor escapes me, and people need to stop writing “ermahgerd!” instead of “OMG!” There. I said it. That explanatory page calls it an orthodontic retainer “lisp,” but since when does a lisp add an R to vowel sounds rather than TH-ing the S’s? It’s all annoying.

Favorite clues:

  • 24a. [Attempt to take out a drone?], SWAT. Droning bugs.
  • 33a. [Revolution leader?], PRINCE. If you party like it’s 1999 today, what does that entail?
  • 42a. ["I'm still not sold, but ..."], BETTER. Keep trying. You’ll get there.
  • 55a. [Polish establishment], NAIL SALON.
  • 8d. [Ridic], INANE. “I had to jilt him. He was a ridic beau.”
  • 38d. [The impact energy of a small mosquito flying into a wall, roughly], ERG. Interesting science clue.

Not in love with ETERNIZES. Have not seen the word before; dictionary labels it “literary.”

Four stars.

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7 Responses to Monday, January 14, 2013

  1. jim hale says:

    What a great Monday puzzle. The end is near indeed.

  2. Christopher Jablonski says:

    Can’t help but wonder if the NYT was originally slated for late December. Frankly, though, it’s better to have it come out now.

  3. Jenni says:

    I loved today’s NYT. Yeah, yeah, I get pannonica’s point about the Monday cluing, but RECTILINEAR and the fun of the reveal far outweighed the “meh” factor. One of my favorite Mondays ever. Fun!

  4. Papa John says:

    pannonica, why were we treated to the image of the Yeti crab in your NYT critique?

    • pannonica says:

      All those hair-like structures are called setae, the singular of which is seta (not a partial).

  5. Huda says:

    I totally agree that the reveal is the piece de resistance of the puzzle.

    May be I was sensitized by yesterday’s discussion, but today it felt that there were a few too many partials, and none of them that could stand alone as phrases.

    But WANNABE is great, and thank you for cluing Da Vinci without a code tailing it.

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