Monday, May 20, 2013

NYT 3:56 (pannonica) 
LAT untimed (pannonica) 
BEQ 4:52 
CS 4:49 (Evad) 

Tim Croce’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 5/20/13 • Mon • Croce • 5 20 13 • solution

Puzzlorama!

68-across [Professional org. ending eight answers in this puzzle] AMA, the Asociacion Mexicana Automovilistica.

  • 18a. [Caribbean resort island] GRAND BAHAMA.
  • 20a. [2008 Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy] BABY MAMA.
  • 29a. [Many a 1930s soap opera] RADIO DRAMA.
  • 34a. [Desert of Chile] ATACAMA.
  • 36a. [3-D art project] DIORAMA.
  • 43a. [White House girl] MALIA OBAMA.
  • 54a. ["He's a priest ," per Ogden Nash] ONE-L LAMA.
  • 58a. [First explorer to sail directly from Europe to India] VASCO DE GAMA.

All right, how about “theme-o-rama”? Eight entries on a Monday? Sure, two were only seven letters long, but that’s quite a lot, and the puzzle for the most part avoids CAP (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials) crap. The least Mondayesque fill includes 30d [One-named author of "A Dog of Flanders"] OUIDA, 21d YOGIC, 52d SLATY, and the themer ATACAMA. Curious that 37d RAVEL is clued as [Entangle, as yarn] rather than the French composer; is Maurice losing relevancy? Speaking of entangling, RAVEL is one of those words that can also function as its own opposite—called, among other things, contranyms, autantonyms, and enantiodromes. In my view this is another reason to have used the music-related sense for this early-week puzzle.

Long downs are the four-four names DUMB DORA and ALAN ALDA. The triple-six verticals in the northeast and southwest add some density, though their contents are not so exciting. The doubled sevens top and bottom center, along the longest themers, are more interesting.

Good puzzle, neither TOO EASY nor too crunchy (despite the ABS, PINE NUTS, and a lone DORITO).

Updated Monday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Half-baked Alaska” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Some real groaners featuring the 49th state to start your workweek:

CS solution – 05/20/13

  • [Clarifying question to an Alaskan?] clues JUNEAU WHAT I MEAN. I guess “ju-knew” this was coming.
  • [Alaskan eye doctor?] is an OPTICAL ALEUTIAN. The island chain is a stand-in for “illusion” here. I think these doctors help you to see Russia more clearly.
  • [Ranking of an Alaskan politician?] clues the only Alaskan politician that comes to my mind, PALIN COMPARISON. “Pale in” is what the original phrase uses–we don’t often use “pale” as a verb, but it means to be deficient, or lacking (as in color). I think I enjoyed this one the most and it was hardly beyond the pale.

I thought this was good set of Alaskan puns–but I expected all three to be towns/cities after I uncovered the first entry. Guess there’s not much you can do with ANCHORAGE, eh? My FAVE entry was to see the classic New Yorker cartoonist Peter ARNO used to clue what typically is an aquatic entry. Even if you’re not a regular subscriber, I know you’d recognize his work. My UNFAVE today is something we saw just yesterday in the NYT as I remember: A HOOT, clued as [Really funny]. That indefinite article leads us down a slippery slope, methinks.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 5/20/13 solution

A 62-worder? Eh. I much prefer Brendan’s looser grids jam-packed with zippy fill to low-word-count puzzles with more roll-your-own entries.

Favorite fill: SORE THUMB, KENDRICK LAMAR, WENT PRO, PAWN SHOPS, R.L. STINE (I tweeted him a link to the puzzle), IT GIRL (she works in I.T., right?), ATALANTA, and TEAM PHOTOS.

Favorite clues:

  • 12a. [Outstanding person?], DEBTOR.
  • 17a. [Had trouble wrapping things up], RAN LATE.
  • 39a. [Places where people might exchange rings], PAWN SHOPS.
  • 31d. [Afghan's home], KENNEL. Afghan hound, not Afghanistan person.
  • 32d. [Things removed by pumps], GAS CAPS. By = near.
  • 39d. [Diet that's been around a long time?], PALEO.

Dislikes: Plural TETS and SYSTS and GENOAS, EDDA, TERNS, ABATOR, ROPILY, GSOS. Blurgh.

3.33 stars.

C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 5/20/13 • Mon • Burnikel • solution

Accidentally untimed (the clock never started) for the LAT, added to my longer-than-usual solve for the NYT, which I ascribe to the fact that I woke up moments before staring in on it. It’s a banner day, for sure.

Noticed the numerical sequence of the themers while solving, but was wondering why it started with three and not one or zero. Turns out that the theme answers—all of them 15 letters long, incidentally—contain the typical (exclusive?) pars for golf holes, as explained by 58-across [As expected, or, golfwise, a hint to numbers found in 17-, 23- and 50-Across] PAR FOR THE COURSE.

  • 17a. [1978 hit for the Commodores] THREE TIMES A LADY.
  • 23a. [Safety feature at a dangerous intersection] FOUR-WAY STOP SIGN. Discussed just over a month ago in these very virtual pages, on the occasion of Martin Ashwood-Smith’s Saturday NYT puzzle.
  • 50a. [False start punishment, in football] FIVE-YARD PENALTY.

All real phrases, and it’s very nice that each of the three have a different subject (music, daily life, sports). Not an issue to me that football and golf of the revealer are both sports-related (the latter only in part).

Pitched at the appropriate Monday level, but with a few bones tossed for the more experience solver: an echoed clue here, a cutish bit there, et cetera.

  • 32d [Oft-sprained joint] ANKLE, 48d [Treats again, as a sprain] for the unpretty REICED. 14a [Legend automaker] ACURA, 66a [The stuff of legends] MYTH. 30a [Give one's word] VOW crossing 27d [Gave one's word] SWORE. 25d [New Haven sch.] for the ickily-written YALE U, 67a [25-Down student] ELI.
  • Longdowns: AIR GUITAR, MARBLE RYE, THEATRIC, HASH OVER.
  • 31a. [Business bigwig] TITAN. Not a clue I would have expected for this fill, especially early in the week. Phrase that comes to mind is “titans of industry.”
  • 55a [Hush-hush maritime org.] ONI. Hush-hush enough for me not to have heard of it, for whatever that’s worth. Hmm… going to guess it’s the Office of Naval Intelligence, which I have heard of, so perhaps it’s just the abbrev. that’s unfamiliar.
  • Not sure why I have this mindset, but not only did the idea cross my mind that 46d [Greek street food] GYRO could have pieces of of street (shaved asphalt?) in it, and 36d MARBLE RYE might be made with marbles, since it suffers the same abuse as “ice tea.”

Fine puzzle and—yes, that’s right—PAR FOR THE COURSE on a Monday.

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9 Responses to Monday, May 20, 2013

  1. ktd says:

    Perhaps we should conduct a survey to see what is more relevant to Monday Times solvers: knitting or early 20th century French music (I fall squarely into the latter category, FWIW).

    Re: contranyms–so when Shakespeare wrote about “sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care” , I take it he meant what we would call unravelled in modern English usage? PS last week contranyms was the subject of the final question at my regular pub trivia game. Thanks to our knowledge of the definitions of “sanction” we were able to claim victory!

  2. Akil says:

    NYT: Definitely in the Bolero camp…

    Are we particularly hard in rating Mondays? Or is perfection particularly difficult to achieve on that day? I ask because my admittedly faulty memory says that it’s been a while since we’ve seen average ratings clearly above 4 stars for a Monday NYT, while Fridays for example seem to garner them more readily…

    (and then there was the freakishly highly rated Sam Donaldson puzzle, where ~90% gave it a 5, but that was not a NYT puzzle).

  3. John from Chicago says:

    Is it Memorex or is it real?

    It’s a Monday. It’s easy, except in this case it’s hard.

    I’m not sure which is more confusing tonight. Amy’s analysis or Mad Men? I liked both.

  4. Bencoe says:

    Absolutely did not like “slaty”, which cost me serious time at the end. What can I make with “ease” at the end here? Not thinking it possible that “slaty” was a word.

  5. Gareth says:

    I liked it! Very basic theme, but dense, interesting answers and while there is crossword-ese, apart from OUIDA and TAL it was all pretty low-end stuff… 4 Stars for me.

  6. pannonica says:

    I agree, the BEQ was overall unpleasant and felt sloppy. Examples: 22d [Opens, as some wine bottles] UNSCREW. 10d [Attorney's fee] RETAINER / 29d [Door money?] ENTRY FEE.

    Is this another regional (New England?) thing? “Genoa ham” vs. “Genoa salami.” The former has one-tenth the search results of the latter. Which reminds me, when I was in Chicago ages and ages ago, I went into a deli to order a sandwich “with genoa” (where I come from the “salami” is implicit) and the guy was completely dumbfounded. Should have ordered kielbasa, I guess. 32a [Some hams] GENOAS.

    Subjective: 42d [Reddish-brown color] PUCE, which I consider to be purplish-red or purplish-brown but strangely not reddish-brown; purple is crucial for me here.

  7. Peter Collins says:

    I think William Kidd might bristle at being called a legendary *pirate*. According to a book I just read, he was a state-sponsored privateer (i.e. one given the task of catching pirates), but was framed for political reasons. He was convicted of piracy, and went to the gallows for it.

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