Monday, August 19, 2013

NYT 3:42 with poltergeist keyboard (pannonica) 
LAT 4:11 (ditto) (pannonica) 
BEQ 4:48 
CS 5:16 (Evad) 

Jean O’Conor’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 8/19/13 • Mon • O’Conor • 8 19 13 • solution

Really? ELO, ARPS, ETO, LST, AS A, ADA, ON A, AMP, OSOS, X OUT, EEO, TO IT, WTS., et al. Really? Such a crossword rogues gallery on a Monday?

AGE ONE (11d [ Early toddlerhood])??

How about the all-Apple crossing of 48d [Purchase from the iTunes store] APP and 56a [Music devices with earbuds] IPODS? (For the record, 7d [Fruit to bob for] APPLE is fine.)

Does 47d SLIMES [Smears with gunk] exist outside of Ghostbusters and talk of hagfishes?

Oh yes, the theme. Revealer is broken over two entries: 62a [With 60-Across, doing great … or where to find 18-, 24-, 35-, 51-, and 57-Across?] ON A | ROLL. So, split revealer, in reverse order (though admittedly it scans fairly well across the grid, but still!), with neither part having symmetry elsewhere (i.e., at 17a and 16a). So:

  • 18a. [Tiny bagel flavorers] POPPY SEEDS.
  • 24a. [Two in craps] SNAKE EYES.
  • 35a. [Ones getting all A's] HONOR STUDENTS.
  • 51a. [Room decoration with a pattern] WALLPAPER.
  • 57a. [Obsolescent Kodak product] CAMERA FILM.

The heart of the theme is adequate. However, it uses four senses of ROLL across the five entries, with the final two being essentially the same, which imbues a small sense of imbalance. Bottom-heaviness, in this case, as the lower third of the grid also contains the two-part revealer.

A headscratcher indeed. This ungainly puzzle elicits an OMNIGEE from me.

Matt McKinley’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 8/19/13 • Mon • McKinley • solution

Holy Pignoli! A coniferous theme.

  • 50a. [Maine's nickname, and a hint to the ends of 20-, 23-, and 41-Across] PINE TREE STATE. Maine is also known as Vacationland.
  • 20a. [Long-eyed stitching tool] DARNING NEEDLE. Pine needles are adult leaves, and the bunches they grow in are called fascicles.
  • 33a. [Dairy Queen order] ICE CREAM CONE. Pine cones are the sex(y) bits of these trees, bearing either ovules or pollen.
  • 41a. [Proverbial backbreaker] THE LAST STRAW. I confess to not ever having heard of “pine straw.” The American Heritage Dictionary informs me that they are “yellowed fallen pine needles” and that it’s a chiefly Southern US regionalism. It’s a good, descriptive term and probably deserves wider currency, but I’d say it might not be appropriate for an early-week national crossword.

I like the theme for its unusualness, but—as noted—the STRAW entry is troublesome, not only for its limited dissemination but also because it describes the same item as one of the other two theme answers, merely in a different location and of a different color. Why not have an answer ending in NUT or RESIN? “Snake” and “marten” can also follow “pine,” but they aren’t actually parts of pine trees, as per the revealer. Besides, “marten” would be impossible to clue in a different sense, though there are other species besides the (European) pine marten (Martes martes).

 The rest of the crossword is comprised of standard Monday-level fill and clues, with some nice longer bits PACIFIC Ocean neatly symmetrical with ABYSMAL, though the latter sadly isn’t clued referencing the Marianas Trench; Popeye’s SWEE’ PEA is offset by a SORE ARM; BLUE MOON and TEN-SPEED ([State-of-the-art 1970s bike] – I feel old now, thanks).

  • The cross-reference right at the start with 1-across [33-Across topper] SCOOP is off-putting. I especially don’t care for anomalous cross-pollination among ballast fill and theme fill.
  • 54a [Martini order] DRY. “Specification” would be better than “order.”
  • Roughest, most atypical fill: 36a ["The __ Baltimore": Lanford Wilson play] HOT’L
  • Briefly had SANG for [Jingled] instead of RANG. (58d)

Overall, about average puzzle.

Updated Monday morning:

Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “It’s Greek to Me” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Five phrases that begin with a Greek letter:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 08/19/13

  • [Leader of the pack] clues ALPHA DOG
  • [Glitch reporter] was BETA TESTER – At first, I was thinking “glitch” was an adjective (like an “ace” reporter); I think I’d prefer BETA BLOCKER here, but that might not work with the symmetry constraints.
  • [High-energy electromagnetic radiation] is GAMMA RAYS
  • ["Designing Women" costar] clues DELTA BURKE – her weight issues captured a lot of the public’s attention during (and after) the show’s run as I recall.
  • [1971 Charlton Heston science fiction film, with "The"] is OMEGA MAN

Not much to say on this one–seems inconsistent we have the first four letters of the Greek alphabet and then the last one, but I understand EPSILON isn’t fertile theme territory. I’m also a bit bothered that in some phrases the letter really refers to the Greek letter (well all but DELTA, I’m thinking).I can’t leave without mentioning my UNFAVE of this puzzle and perhaps my recent stretch of puzzles I’ve commented on, which was [More incensed] or IRATER. Hard to believe that survived the editor’s cut. It sounds like my job description, “I, RATER,” à la I, Claudius or I, Robot. I did like the true French plural of BEAUX for [Swains] as I always enjoy a bit of X action in my daily puzzles.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 8 19 13 solution, “Themeless Monday”

Quickly:

Highlights include JE T’AIME, SLASH AND BURN, fun-to-spell SUBPOENA, KMART SHOPPER, JUMBO CD, METALHEAD, DREAMBOAT, EDITH HEAD (in a quasi mini-theme with METALHEAD), THE DEW.

Favorite clues:

  • 60a. [Play with a teacher?], OLEANNA. Mamet play about a professor/student relationship. Evokes yesterday’s news story about the CA high school teacher charged with marauding underage boys.
  • 45a. [Fluffy creature in a toddler's book], EWE. Have you read Sheep in a Jeep?
  • 50a. [Target of an attention-seeker?], KMART SHOPPER.
  • 6d. [Sabbath follower?], METALHEAD. Black Sabbath, that is.

Honorable mention for BACNE, 47d. [Breakout that's behind you]. This word is in very few crosswords.

Four stars.

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18 Responses to Monday, August 19, 2013

  1. Jason F says:

    I thought POPPY SEEDS was a clever take for the “on a roll” theme, and the different senses of roll didn’t bother me at all.

    However, the theme answers bothered me in a different way. SNAKE EYES *is* a roll in craps, snake eyes are found “on a roll” only in the most technical sense. CAMERA FILM and WALLPAPER also suffer from the same problem. I used to buy a roll of film, not film on a roll.

    On the plus side, there were a few more nice answers than the typical Monday: EXIGENT, SIDESLIP, MEDUSA, and TRAPDOOR, to name a few.

    • pannonica says:

      I debated picking at the SNAKE EYES and ultimately decided it was defensible, as were the two rolls shaped like PIPES (8d). But indeed LAPSED (5d) by neglecting to mention those good answers.

    • Davis says:

      Is SIDESLIP a thing people say? I’d neither seen nor heard it prior to this puzzle, and all the leading non-dictionary Google hits I see use it in reference to flying (i.e., not in the sense clued).

  2. Martin says:

    OK, why did AMPS get listed in the iffy fill column?

    -MAS

    • pannonica says:

      Not iffy, just a tired crossword stalwart made more noticeable by the presence of so many others.

  3. Martin says:

    Pannonica wrote:

    “Not iffy, just a tired crossword stalwart made more noticeable by the presence of so many others.”

    I understand, but once you start singling out common 3/4 letter words such as AMP/AMPS, constructors might as well throw in the proverbial towel.

    –MAS

    • pannonica says:

      I didn’t single it out; merely listed it as part of a “rogues gallery.” I have no illusions or desires that ETO, ELO, Jean ARP, or ESAI Morales (not in this puzzle) be stricken from the genre. I’m not so unrealistic. So I apologize if the inclusion of AMP(S) led to that interpretation.

  4. Martin says:

    “I didn’t single it out; merely listed it as part of a “rogues gallery”

    True enough… but you did put it on a kind of “lex offenders” list. ;)

    -MAS

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I’m okay with AMP, provided it’s clued as the musical embiggener or the verb and not the unit of electrical current. But the rest of pannonica’s list is indeed heavy on the “meh.”

      • David L says:

        What’s wrong with AMP as the electrical unit? Seems entirely legit to me — unless you are objecting to scientific units as a general principle.

  5. Ed says:

    Curious about the entry HONORSTUDENTS – it doesn’t really fit the theme “on a roll” as much as the other entries. But is it an oblique reference on the part of the constructor to the somewhat phonetically related “honor roll”?

  6. Jeff Chen says:

    Hey all!

    Jean’s commentary about the making of her puzzle, a note from Will Shortz, plus commentary from yours truly:

    http://www.xwordinfo.com/Crossword?date=8/19/2013

    Jeff

  7. Gareth says:

    I think Ms. O’Connor’s puzzle is part of a series part one was in the LAT here! First INTHEBAG now ONAROLL! I wonder if the LAT theme evolved from the NYT?

  8. Dan says:

    Anyone else having problems with the nyt app from magmic? I have not been able to get new puzzles since Friday. I am on a blackberry PlayBook tablet and read in their app store that another person is experiencing the same problem. Just curios if ipad and android users are having problems as well.

    I have never had a problem with the app before this, and it worked perfectly with BlackBerry. Wondering why it chose now to act up.

  9. Martin says:

    Dan, same magmic problems for me … since the Friday puzzle.

    -MAS

  10. ArtLvr says:

    I can’t get today’s LAT or the Ephraim website…

Comments are closed.