Monday, April 15, 2013

NYT 3:21 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:14 (pannonica) 
BEQ 6:40 

Gayle Dean’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 4/15/13 • Mon • Dean • 4 15 13 • solution

I just know this theme’s been done before. Loan words from Yiddish, all beginning with SCH-.

  • 20a. [Excessive sentimentality] SCHMALTZ.
  • 26a. [Comedian's gimmick] SCHTICK. A crossword’s theme is a gimmick of sorts.
  • 36a. [Habitual bungler] SCHLEMIEL.
  • 52a. [Bagel spread] SCHMEAR. I believe it refers the style, not the substance. However, if it isn’t modified it’s assumed to mean a relatively thin layer of cream cheese.
  • 57a. [Chat idly] SCHMOOZE.

Okay, what the hell is ESCHEWS doing in this puzzle, especially in a location that it isn’t unusual to see vertical themers?

Five medium-length theme answers leaves a lot of flexibility for longer ballast fill, such as the vertical triple seven-stacks in each corner, and—to boot—the words comprising them aren’t dull. Not only do CODICIL and EULOGIA share somewhat morbid associations, but they’re also atypical Monday-level fare. More sevens farther inward: HOT LUNCH and IRISH SEA.

Low CAP Quotient™ (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials) keeps the solving experience smooth and schlep-free.

Strong, well-constructed puzzle, but the theme feels played out.

Patti Varol’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 4/15/13 • Mon • Varol • solution

Five very long acrosses.

  • 16a. [*Comforter-and-sheets set for a large mattress, say] KING SIZE BEDDING.
  • 22a. [*Gaga way to be in love] HEAD OVER HEELS.
  • 36a. [*Big tourist draw] MAJOR ATTRACTION.
  • 50a. [*Industry-spanning work stoppage] GENERAL STRIKE.

Annnd… what links them?

  • 59a. [Simon Says relative, and a hint to what happens after the starts of 16-, 22-, 36- and 50-Across] FOLLOW THE LEADER.

So, okay, I kind of see it. The first word in each of those answers is a sort of leader, but it’s a loose grouping. Two are military ranks, one is usually hereditary—those three taken together are all titles—and the fourth is a casual designation. For some reason I’m reminded of a possibly apocryphal performance analysis of a British army major: “His men would follow him anywhere, but mostly out of curiosity.”

Et seq:

  • 43a [Sea shocker] EEL. My distaste and disdain for this persistently inaccurate clue (and variations thereof) is well-documented.
  • Row 7: An all-initialism revue! With bonus pluralized abbrev. UFOTLCRSVPS. Oh and that one crosses the never-seen-it-before-but-I-have-no-doubt-it-exists DIET RC.
  • Idle thought: is the most common location for OREO in a 15×15 grid the first answer in Row 2? Constructors?
  • ROBERT Frost, Edgar Allan POE, Jean-Paul SARTRE.
  • AN EYE, A RAGE, A LITTLE.
  • PDFS and TIFF.
  • 14a MINOR unrelated to themer 36a.

Average puzzle, and I know I’m going to forget it completely before el SOL goes down in the opposite of 24-down today.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 4 15 13 answers

I don’t know if I can forgive Brendan for that KURT AND ___ iconic couple of the ’90s space. Dammit. I thought KURT AND GOLDIE, and then tried to figure out who he was with then if not Goldie Hawn. Cobain and Love, dammit. Just saw Courtney on The View last week at the gym. She seems to be faring well.

I slowed myself down by making 13d: TASKS into SASKS, which made 9a hard to figure out. Almost made ASSET into ISLES, which would have done me no favors.

Never heard of AUSTIN PENDLETON to my recollection, but seeing his picture here made me say “oh, he’s that guy!” And he is indeed included on the “Hey! It’s That Guy!” page of character actors.

The other 15s—WHAT MAKES MAKES IT TICK (doesn’t this phrase usually have a “him” or “her” in it rather than an inanimate “it”?), MUSCLE RELAXANTS, TAKES TO EXTREMES, and SPOTTED A MILE OFF (I wanted …AWAY but it wouldn’t fit) are all pretty solid. If you’re going to have six 15s in your grid, the rest of the fill is likely to be spiffier if you don’t stack the 15s together, no? Although IPANA, STN, LESE, ELAND, and NAUT are the sort of things you do expect to find in a grid with a lot of 15s.

Brendan’s favorite clue, 25a. [Pampered folks?] for TOTS, is indeed a good one. Pampers diapers, not spa pampering. Also good:

  • 5a. ["The usual" suspects?], SOTS ordering “the usual.”
  • 59a. [Low pair?], FEET, not playing cards.
  • 11d. [Delivery person?], SAVIOR who delivers you from trouble.
  • 52d. [___ Way (Block on Ninth Avenue in New York between 15th and 16th named after a sweet)], OREO.

Have we seen [Apps] used as a tricky clue for STARTERS? And when did appetizers begin getting called “starters,” anyway?

As for 44d: [NCAA ranking list] A.P. POLL—is this a debut entry like the 15s? And 48d: [Business technology news website], ZDNET—also a debut?

3.75 stars.

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13 Responses to Monday, April 15, 2013

  1. Karen says:

    “The theme feels played out.”

    Not in the New York Times that I could find but then xwordinfo only goes back to 1984 so perhaps you’re thinking of something earlier.

    Or maybe in another venue. Is Will Shortz obligated to eschew themes that only appeared elsewhere? Wow, it’s tough being an editor these days.

  2. john farmer says:

    I’m curious why the objection to ESCHEWS. The theme is (a) Yiddish loanwords that (b) begin with SCH___. ESCHEWS, afaik, is neither. Is there something else?

  3. pauer says:

    Don’t recall seeing this exact theme before, and the closest I could find from the NYT were these:
    (6/24/99 by Jim Page)
    SCHMEARCAMPAIGN 15 Series of cream cheese commercials?
    SCHTICKINTHEMUD 15 Filthy comedy act?
    SCHLEPPEDAROUND 15 Lugged?

    (10/10/01 by Richard Chisholm)
    OVERSCHLEPPED 13 Carried too much?
    SCHNAPPSSHOTS 13 Quick, strong alcoholic drinks?
    HOCKEYSCHTICK 13 Slap shots for Jagr or Lemieux?

    and there are these two from the LATimes:
    (3/12/10 by BEQ)
    SCHLOCKHORNS 12 Low-quality trumpets and trombones?
    ONESCHLUMPORTWO 15 “How many fools do we have here?”?
    SCHTICKMARKS 12 Grades in standup comedy class?

    (2/9/05 by Matthew Lees)
    FANCYSCHMANCY 13 “Who needs designer gowns?”
    PENCILSCHMENCIL 15 “Well, I always solve the crossword in ink”
    TAXESSCHMAXES 13 “April 15th doesn’t scare me”

    and there’s this one from the NYSun:
    (12/3/03 by Seth Abel)
    PIERCEDSCHMEAR 14 Cream cheese with a knife stuck in it?
    BASEBALLSCHLUMP 15 Disheveled person on a diamond?
    WIZARDOFSCHNOZ 14 Talented plastic surgeon’s nickname, with “The”?

    and now I’m really in the mood for a latke (and I think you mean “schlock-free”). :)

    • pannonica says:

      Schlock would have worked too, but I was considering the smoothness of the solve. No heavy lifting and/or dragging.

      Thanks for doing that research! Wonder what I was thinking of. Was definitely something in the last few years, since I’ve been visiting this blog. Perhaps it was a straight-up Yiddischer [sic] theme?

  4. Gareth says:

    There’s this one from Tausig:
    http://www.crosswordfiend.com/blog/2013/02/19/wednesday-february-20-2013/#bt
    No schlong today??? Surprised!
    And this Fireball:
    http://www.crosswordfiend.com/blog/2011/06/15/thursday-61611/#fb
    There’s also this (quite different) Yiddish puzzle from the NYT that probably didn’t come up in people’s xwordinfo searches too easily:
    http://www.crosswordfiend.com/blog/2012/08/22/thursday-82312/#ny
    And another Yiddish CHE (blogged by Pan):
    http://www.crosswordfiend.com/blog/2011/12/08/friday-12911/#ch

    Guess that’s the punishment of being exposed to too many different puzzles!

    (“Pro” tip, I searched google for entries followed by site:crosswordfiend.com/blog)

  5. ArtLvr says:

    Thanks to Gareth, Pauer et al for all the hysterical Yiddischer schtuff…. Very amusing!

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