Monday, March 25, 2013

NYT 3:13 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:08 (pannonica) 
BEQ 7:03 
CS 5:53 (Sam) 

Adam Prince’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 3/25/13 • Mon • Prince • 0325 • solution

Revealer right in the middle of the grid, at 37-across: [Title that can precede the starts of 17-, 23-, 49- and 59-Across] CAPTAIN.

  • 17a. [Recipe holders] is a subtly tricky way to clue COOKBOOKS, which seems uncharacteristic for a Monday, even for a theme entry. See also 5d [Good smells] AROMAS.
  • 23a. [Irregular trial venue] KANGAROO COURT. When I was young, I imagined it had something to do with those sensational human vs. kangaroo boxing matches, picturing the chaos that would ensue should one take place in those hallowed chambers rather than a boxing ring. Hey, conflict is conflict.
  • 49a. ["The Shawshank Redemption" actor] MORGAN FREEMAN. See also 26a [Liquors for pirates] RUMS, and perhaps 56a [Swab the decks, say] MOP.
  • 59a. [Basketball scoring attempts that are difficult to block] HOOK SHOTS.

Solid, though probably not completely new theme, well-executed, with lots of juicy fill  and cluing throughout.

Notes:

  • Double-duty clue at 1d and 64a: [Egg containers] for both SACS and NESTS.
  • Strong long down fill. I’M ON A ROLL, GUACAMOLE, SCREW IT, ICE CUBE.
  • Favorite clue: 66a [Many a true word is spoken in this] JEST.
  • 22a [Food-spoiling bacteria] E. COLI. It turns food green of course because it starts with ECO.
  • Was momentarily befuddled with 19a [Father, biblically] BEGET, as I was thinking of a noun rather than a verb.

Strong puzzle with a non-overreaching theme, a minimum of dross, and clues with a bit more pizzazz than the average early-week offering. Can’t ask for much more than that out of a Monday crossword.

Updated Monday morning:

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “String Beans”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, March 25

Today’s puzzle honors beans, beans, the magical fruit. At four stops within the grid we see either a [String of three] or a [String of two], in either case featuring the names of various beans appearing consecutively:

  • The [String of three] at 17-Across is GARBANZO / SOY / MUNG. Garbanzo beans are easily the tastiest of the three in this string; they’re a staple in most of my lunchtime salads.
  • The [String of two] at 23-Across is COFFEE / LIMA. COFFEE threw me at first because I was thinking exclusively of edible beans. Okay, I suppose coffee beans are edible (remind me to tell you the story of the first time I ate chocolate-covered espresso beans–about two dozen in one sitting), but you wouldn’t find them on many salads.
  • The [String of two] at 48-Across is PINTO / GREEN. Pinto beans for the easy win over green beans. 
  • The [String of three] at 55-Across is JELLY / KIDNEY / FAVA. Only one of these three pairs well with human liver and a nice Chianti.

The wordplay involved in this puzzle comes strictly from the title: “String Beans.” Once the solver sees the theme, the rest feels like a miniature Scattergories game as one tries to uncover the various sorts of beans. It’s a good workout for the, er, bean, I suppose, but it’s not my favorite kind of theme. The reward of Oh look, another bean! doesn’t especially win me over much.

I was a bigger fan of the fill. TIM ALLEN, CAR SALESMAN, NECKTIE, GO SOFT, CREEPY, CEZANNE, ONE OVER, LAGGARD, and the appearance of Gordon GEKKO for the second time in three days all gave the puzzle some pizzazz. We’ll just pretend ORY, L RON, and RELS didn’t happen, m’kay?

Favorite entry = I REST MY CASE, clued as ["Told you so!"]. Favorite clue = [KP sandwich?] for the letter sequence sandwiched between K and P: LMNO. Talk about a great way to make ugly fill shine!

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

beq 130325

Quick post, as the Wi-Fi in the vacation house (my in-laws’ home) is spotty. Quick posts all week, in fact!

I didn’t love this puzzle, but there sure is a lot of stuff in it that I liked: HE’S BACK, the PORTA-JOHN/LATRINE potty action, PIZZA DELIVERY, T.S. ELIOT, REDDIT, Jacques BARZUN (wasn’t he part of a Matt Gaffney meta once?), CONDE NAST, VOYEUR, ANDY WARHOL, LOCAL DIVE, and the trickiness of [McCain rival], O—-A, but too long for OBAMA. (It’s ORE-IDA, as McCain is another, newer brand of frozen potato products. They need better packaging graphic design, if you ask me.) [Native Georgian] is a good clue for ASIAN, too.

ISOLINE is a word? Did I know that?

Four stars.

David Steinberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 3/25/13 • Mon • Steinberg • solution

This is the kind of puzzle that can only appear on a Monday. It’s got a cute theme, but once that’s cracked it gives too much of the store away, making for a fast solve on semi-autopilot. The notion is wholesale transposal of two-word phrases:

  • 13a/64a. [Borscht vegetable] / [The color of embarrassment] : RED  BEET / BEET RED.
  • 15a/63a. [Aromatic hybrid blossom] / [Beverage blend using buds] : TEA ROSE / ROSE TEA.
  • 19a/54a. [Original M&M's filling] / [Brown cow product?] : MILK CHOCOLATE / CHOCOLATE MILK.
  • 35a/41a. [Product of boiled sap] / [Tree with brilliant foliage] : MAPLE SUGAR / SUGAR MAPLE (Acer saccharum).

As I said, cute theme, but it’s a bit constraining. One benefit, though, is that there’s no struggle to find symmetrical pairs of the same length.

Workmanlike, unimpeachable early-week fill and cluing. The themed sevens in Rows 2 and 14 are complemented by stacked fill above and below, which may trigger a pang of longing in some solvers for more of the same length—forming impressive stacks—in Rows One and Fifteen, rather than measly threes.

Is 39 blocks excessive for a 15×15? Visually, at least, is seems like a lot of black squares on hand. It almost feels a bit CHAOTIC (60a), perhaps because there isn’t an entry occupying the central square of the grid? As well as the lack of genuinely long fill, either among the acrosses or downs? Oh, I type corrected – forgot about the lovely DODECAGON and CIGAR CASE. Even so, it does feel a bit unstable and swirly.

Still, a fine, fine puzzle.

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6 Responses to Monday, March 25, 2013

  1. Zulema says:

    SCREW IT? Is that fit to print in the rest of the NYT?

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: seemed a little on the tougher side of Monday, especially the cluing. Didn’t know Shawshank Redemption so I relied on crosses until it emerged, and as noted above, SCREWIT is unexpected and gave me pause in the SW. I do agree that the theme density is good and the verticals are notable.

  3. Jeff Chen says:

    What a nice Monday puzzle! Everything a Monday should be.

  4. GS test demo says:

    Monday, March 25, 2013 | Diary of a Crossword Fiend

Comments are closed.