Tuesday, May 14, 2013

NYT 3:26 (pannonica) 
Jonesin' 4:26 
LAT 3:18 
CS 5:28 (Dave) 

John Lieb’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 5/14/13 • Mon • LIeb • 5 14 13 • solution

Bear with me, people. After my mistaken assessment of last week’s Monday NYT and my feigned bewilderment at Sunday’s CRooked puzzle (yes, it was a joke), I fear I may not be completely grasping this one.

12-down reads [Status-seeking sort … or a solver of this puzzle, initially?] NAME DROPPER. Appropriately, there are four other entries—comprising three names—that drop through the grid vertically:

  • 5d/41d. [With 41-Down, title teen in a 2004 indie hit] NAPOLEON | DYNAMITE.
  • 20d. [Amateur detective in 1967's "The Clue in the Crossword Cipher"] NANCY DREW.
  • 24d. ["Song Sung Blue" singer] NEIL DIAMOND.

Obviously, they each possess the initials N.D. So I perceive the elements of the theme, but I can’t reconcile it well enough, especially with the revealer. Let’s revisit it. [Status-seeking sort … or a solver of this puzzle, initially?] NAME DROPPER. The first part clues the answer conventionally. The second part … uhhm, I’m not quite sure. As one solves the puzzle, the names can be said to be dropped down through the grid, so perhaps the qualifier in the clue should have been “literally”? Of course, that ignores the fact that NAME DROPPER shares the initials ND with the theme answers, but how does “initially” describe the “solver of this puzzle”? When you begin the solve, are you supposedly a “name  dropper”? That makes no sense.

I feel as if I have all the parts but they don’t quite fit together; it’s like a jigsaw puzzle where the last piece is slightly mis-cut and simply won’t fit. Feel free to correct me in the comments.

Moving on, strong triple seven-stacks across in each corner: CASINOS / THE WAVE / RIP OPEN; LEBANON / ORIGAMI / BASEMEN; SNOOZED / TAN LINE / SADDLES; ARIZONA / LATERAL / PLEDGES. Quite a nice bunch, although the shorter crossings thereof aren’t anything to get excited about.

Despite the theme appearing vertically, the longest non-theme answers are also downs, and in fact run along the sides of the symmetrically split NAPOLEON DYNAMITE: OVEREAT and NATURAL.

Most interesting clue: 66a [A lifeguard's whistle might create one] TAN LINE. Factette: 53a [Sushi ingredient] RICE, which is called SHARI (take note, constructors).

A bit too many abbrevs. for my liking. Combined with the typically lusterless Tuesday cluing and the confusing (and let’s face it: not very interesting) theme, it adds up to a below-average solving experience.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Sound Off”

Jonesin’ crossword answers, 5 14 13 “Sound Off”

Matt combines two sound words and concocts a plausible definition for each combo:

  • 17a. [How termites start on trees?], GOBBLE BARK. I don’t think of BARK as a sound so much as a verb for the making of a [yap/woof/arf] sound.
  • 61a. [Modern mini-obituary?], CROAK TWEET. As seen in Twitter posts with the hashtag #rip.
  • 11d. [Hype around a bad doctor?], QUACK BUZZ. Super-Scrabbly.
  • 34d. [Lackey who hauls around seasonal marshmallows?], PEEP GRUNT. Gross. I can handle the grunts, but not Peeps.

Fun bits:

  • 19a. [Good last name for a veterinarian], KATT. Considered CATT and KATZ too. Meow?
  • 31a. [Quiz site], PUB. Haven’t done pub quiz in eons. Miss it!
  • 35a. [Make a remix for YouTube, often], AUTOTUNE. I have not seen any Auto-Tuned remixes of Charles Ramsey’s TV interviews and I’m not going to.
  • 44a. [Ramona's sister, in the Beverly Cleary books], BEEZUS. Also the name of a friend’s band, back in the day.
  • 59a. ["Bloom County" penguin], OPUS. Anyone else have the Opus baseball shirt? Penguin chic, represent!
  • 64a. [Fallon's replacing him], LENO. I always enjoy a good replacement of Leno. Here’s hoping this one sticks.
  • 7d. [Taco-like Taco Bell item], CHALUPA. Is this a real Spanish word?
  • 52d. [Chick noise], CHEEP. Well, PEEP and TWEET were already ruled out by their appearances in theme answers.

My favorite entries include, in addition to the above-mentioned items, DEEP-SIX, SELTZER, ENTROPY, and the NAPOLEON complex (my husband’s 5’8″ and when I asked this guy who’s shorter how tall he was, he claimed 5’9″!).

Mystery item: 52a. [Maritime abbr. that predated SOS], CQD. No idea if that stood for something.

Unsavory answers: that CQD, XCI, RIS, EDO, ENOLA, XEN-, -EROO.

The unsavories were rather more prevalent than I’d like, and the theme did not do much for me. Three stars.

Michael Dewey’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 5 14 13

I think I aged a half a year while doing this puzzle. I caught myself making so many dismayed frowny faces, the Scowl-o-Meter™ overheated a little. But first, the theme: Five phrases that end with words meaning “rupture”—

  • 17a. [14th/15th-century period of papal uncertainty], GREAT SCHISM. Scholarly! I learned about this in a high school honors class so I decree that it is fair game for a Tuesday. No, wait. The term covers two things, and the one I learned about was the East-West Schism splitting Roman Catholic from Eastern Orthodox. The other Great Schism was the Western Schism in which the cardinals appointed two different popes at the same time.
  • 38a. [Fruity ice cream dessert], BANANA SPLIT. Note that this answer intersects the two Down theme answers.
  • 59a. [When collegians descend on Cancún], SPRING BREAK.
  • 11d. [Osteoporosis concern], HIP FRACTURE.
  • 25d. [Tennis server's setback], DOUBLE FAULT. Aww, too bad.

The theme’s quite nice. It would be a little tighter if all of them used a breakage aspect, like the SCHISM and FRACTURE do; SPRING BREAK is a split in the school calendar, and a BANANA SPLIT has a sliced banana, but tennis’s DOUBLE FAULT has nothing to do with earthquake faults. Not a big concern for a theme entry, though.

The Scowl-o-Meter was triggered by a crosswordese parade that included EDO, AFTA, EMEER with nary a “Var.” tag, ESTES, ENURE, DSC, PERLE, AER-, and KTS. Nine words that wrinkle my nose is too many for a single 15×15.

Surprise Third Reich appearance: 40d. [Feared "Hogan's Heroes" group] clues GESTAPO. TV shows set in wars used to be so popular, but have we had anything, really, since China Beach? I can’t think of any series set in the Gulf War or the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

42a. [Defeated incumbent] clues LAME DUCK, but it bears noting that the term also applies to an incumbent who has chosen not to run again (or who is subject to term limits that preclude her running again), not just one who ran for reelection and lost.

Most high-end vocabulary: 23a. [Elaborate solo passage], CADENZA. Musical terminology is something I’ve learned almost exclusively from crosswords, so I couldn’t tell you what this means.

2.9 stars. The fill distracted me from the theme.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “D.C. United” – Dave Sullivan’s review

US Major League Soccer fans (or should that be singular?) will recognize the title of today’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle–it’s the name of the professional Washington, D.C. team, styled after the English Premier League powerhouse Manchester United I’m guessing. When we lived in the Boston area, I actually bought season tickets to the local New England Revolution games, which were sparsely attended at best, and this was during a World Cup year. Americans, generally speaking of course, don’t seem to appreciate a sport that doesn’t feature a lot of scoring. 14-year-old phenom Freddy Adu first played for D.C. United, and all crossworders should know that name, even if they don’t follow the sport.

CS solution – 05/14/13

Anyway, I digress. To today’s puzzle! There are four theme entries in which the letters DC can be found “united” between the end of the first word and the beginning of the second. Drum roll please…

  • WORLD CLASS – our constructor Tony is a world class guy, whom I’ve met at several ACPTs.
  • ALMOND COOKIE – would one find a fortune inside one of these or are they a different Chinese confection?
  • SECOND COMING – does “Advent” actually imply “second”? I know it’s a Christian reference, but I believe the word in other contexts is just a regular arrival, such as the advent of the computer era.
  • GRAND CANAL – have been to Venice, but never in a gondola.

Thumbs up on the theme, and I’m feeling better about my theme-grokking skills in general after a few in a row where I’ve felt a bit lost. Perhaps this daily blogging gig is helping me out! My FAVE entry was the soccer tie-in of MARTA for [Brazilian soccer star, nicknamed "Pelé with skirts"]. (I enjoy the mental image of a professional soccer player running down the pitch in a skirt.) Small demerit with the entry HULA SKIRT already in the puzzle, though that doesn’t seem to trouble some crossword editors out there as it does me as a solver. My UNFAVE entry was the pluralized PTAS, it just looks all kind of wrong to me, but I know it’s one of those go-to entries when nothing else will work.

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21 Responses to Tuesday, May 14, 2013

  1. Howard B says:

    The N.D. theme entries are all vertical, i.e. “dropped”.

  2. Amy Reynaldo says:

    You’d have to be a pretty lousy name-dropper to drop the name Napoleon Dynamite. He’s fictional.

    Not sure why the N.D. names all have to have those initials. It doesn’t really tie into name-dropping.

  3. John from Chicago says:

    OK, Pannonica and Amy, this is Tuesday and you are trying to make it into a Thursday. It’s really not that complicated. And I’m starting to feel for Pannonica.

    There are names with the initials ND and as you solve the puzzle the names drop down. You can debate how famous the names are but if you Google you will not find a lot of famous names with the initials ND. After all, everyone thinks of Notre Dame.

    Otherwise lots of uninteresting fill.

  4. Gareth says:

    Nice NYT: multiple layers (even if the connections aren’t that solid), peppy fill. I had fun! Ditto the LAT: even with the downers of the GESTAPO and a HIPFRACTURE… There were a few cromulent bits but I’ve had much worse.

  5. HH says:

    “Mystery item: 52a. [Maritime abbr. that predated SOS], CQD. No idea if that stood for something.”

    Come Quick — Danger.

  6. Brucenm says:

    Was a solution ever sent out to the meta contained in the Fireball by Jim Hilger of a couple weeks ago? If so I missed it. I had my usual success (i.e. O.OO) trying to figure out the meta, which asked for the “5-letter word answer to this puzzle.” I couldn’t even generate any idea as to what the expression “answer to the puzzle” could mean, since as far as I could see, the puzzle was not in the form of a question (to quote the well-known TV show.)

    I did solve the puzzle — got the long 15, “Switch Positions” across the middle, and saw that some of the answers had to be anagrammed, e.g. “as if” to “fiat” and “tref” to “fret”. The other two longest answers were “contrarian” and “Arab spring” but if they led anywhere they certainly didn’t lead me. If anyone could enlighten me, I’d be grateful, and I apologize if the solution has been explained somewhere, (which it probably has.)

    • Evad says:

      Peter sent out the answer in an attachment the Sunday after the puzzle ran–I think the switched letters when read it order went like FIFTIES KY DERBY VICTOR, so you had to go look up which horses won in the 50′s and the only one that was 5 letters was named SWAPS, which seemed appropriate given the theme.

      • Brucenm says:

        Sknaht, Evad. I was pretty sure I had missed seeing the answer.

        • Evad says:

          er’uoY emocleW!

          I should add that I missed it, I sent in SPREE which was a 5-letter anagram of the entry SPEER. Amy, on the other hand, thought it was week 1 or 2 MGWCC easy. Good thing it wasn’t a MGWCC puzzle or my current streak would have come to an epic fail.

      • Brucenm says:

        I wonder if Peter would have accepted ‘Wasps.”

        • Evad says:

          Probably not–it doesn’t follow the model of swapping just 2 letters from the original entry.

  7. Huda says:

    NYT: Cool puzzle, I enjoyed it. I got the reveal very early and thought NAME DROPPING “initially” was going to be about horizontal entries missing a first name (may be to acquire a different meaning?). So, it was fun to tumble to this alternative, more visual interpretation.

    For totally idiosyncratic reasons, I love the top line of the puzzle: CASINOS and LEBANON as they remind of a place called Casino du Liban, near Beirut. When I was an undergrad in Beirut, this was the happening spot, the Las Vegas by the sea, except much more elegant, more like Monaco actually in terms of dress style. The beautiful American girls who dated the rich Lebanese guys used to get invited there a lot and go dashing off there in convertibles. So, it seemed like an apt beginning for a NAME DROPPING theme.

    The non-theme horizontals are remarkable: RIP OPEN, ORIGAMI, THE WAVE, TANLINE, SADDLES: Very visual.

  8. bencoe says:

    Two real-life NDs: SNL alum/comic actress Nora Dunn, and personal favorite, tragic singer-songwriter Nick Drake.
    Although the theme seemed a little weak, I enjoyed the solving experience more than Pannonica. Smooth for me. I think yesterday’s puzzle and today’s should have been swapped, though…my time for Tuesday was better than on Monday.

    • pannonica says:

      Not a Nick Drake fan, though I like folk and modern folk and British folk. Just not Nick Drake. Nic Jones any day.

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