Monday, December 2, 2013

NYT 3:20 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:37 (pannonica) 
BEQ 5:56 (Amy) 
CS not sayin’ (Dave) 

Adam G. Perl’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 12/2/13 • Mon • Perl • 12 2 13 • solution

One-across hits the solver in the face with the theme, even if she doesn’t yet know what it is: [Villain in the tale named by the starts of 20-, 32-, 41- and 52-Across]. Ow! What a RUDE (33d) way to start the week. And then, midway through the grid, 34a [With 61-Down, description of the 1-Across] comes socking through the landscape.

What it all amounts to is Little Red Riding Hood and the BIG / BAD / WOLF.

  • 20a. ["The Bad News Bears" activity] LITTLE LEAGUE.
  • 32a. [Supposed hints that mislead] RED HERRINGS.
  • 41a. [Lawn tractor] RIDING MOWER.
  • 52a. [Jaguar on the front of a Jaguar, e.g.] HOOD ORNAMENT.

All four members of the main quartet are strong fill, but the scattershot presentation of the accessory theme material feels ramshackle and raises my hackles. I mean, thrusting the solver (6d) HILT(S)-deep without so much as an en GARDE (36d), and then sprinkling the remainder about like so many breadcrumbs. 64a PAPA bear would not be amused, I’m sure.

  • Surprised to see (on a Monday): 7d [Indigo dye] ANIL, 13d [City on the Ruhr] ESSEN, French IDÉES, especially alongside partial GARDE (35d, 36d).
  • Said villainous WOLF was also BIG | EYED (67a), by LRRH’s account.
  • Iowa action! COE College, DES Moines. (39d, 26a)
  • Eve action! 37a [Eve's mate] ADAM, 16a [Grandson of Eve] ENOS.
  • 28a [Colored part of the iris] AREOLA. All of the iris is pigmented; the AREOLA is simply the inner part that rings the pupil. Further, it’s an odd choice to clue the word relatively obscurely as a structure of the eye, at least early in the week.
  • 55d [Adhesive] TAPE. Are these synonymous?
  • My solving time was prolonged by 10 or more seconds because I’d hastily answered 64a ["Come to __"] PAPA as PASS, disregarding the quotation marks. Uncovered the mistake fairly quickly only because I hadn’t remembered encountering the third lupine bit (BAD) and consulted the cross-referencing clue (34a).

Liked the core of the puzzle, but the bad taste of the presentation of auxilliary material never left my mouth.


Updated Monday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Stars and Bars” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Happy CyberMonday® folks! While you’re shopping online, you might take a peek at constructor Bob Klahn‘s “Monday Challenge” (any day he creates a puzzle is a Challenge, despite only Sunday being called that) in which we have phrases where the first word can precede STAR and the second word can precede BAR:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 12/2/13

  • [Hang-out for visitors?] was a GUEST TOWEL – the question mark in the clue had me thinking this would be a made up phrase, but it’s just a play on the idea of towels “hanging out” on a towel bar. Guest star / Towel bar.
  • [Result at craps, perhaps] clued a LUCKY ROLL – sounds like something offered on a Chinese menu; we have Lucky star (see video here) and Roll bar (found on vehicles like Jeeps which tend to be a bit top-heavy and used on all-terrain).
  • [Confection that's grown] clued ROCK CANDY – have never grown this, but I think it’s got something to do with sugar crystals. Rock star / Candy bar – I think this one works best and is a great example of the theme.
  • [Lady Gaga's "Applause" and Katy Perry's "Roar"] are very contemporary POP SINGLES – another great theme example, we have Pop star / Singles bar.

Challenging theme; nice to see there were no revealers to spoil the challenge of figuring out how the title tied into the theme entries. As for the fill, let me just say ARGH (which is what I had for SIGH in the upper NW for the longest time– clued as the [Sound of surrender]). That small area in the NW took as long as perhaps the rest of the puzzle, even with the unusual MOUEin place from the beginning.

“Stars and Bars” – flag of the US Confederate States, 1861

I’m not very good at clues in the form of [Bad/good name for a {insert occupation here}]; there are just too many names and, in this case, nothing sprang to mind when the occupation at hand was a bettor. (The answer was OWEN, a play on “owing.”)

My other sticking point was the L’IL FOLKS, DOCK, MILK area in Ohio/Indiana part of the grid. With L’IL F–KS in place, you can just imagine what I was thinking Charles Schultz originally called his Peanuts comic strip. The ambiguous [Walk on water] could be DUCK (we “duck walk” in our Boot Camp class and I was thinking it’s how a duck might walk on water), DECK (you walk a boat’s deck in the water) or finally DOCK (like a pier, I guess). The word for “galaxy” evidently is derived from the Greek word for MILK; of course, you say, ours is called the Milky Way, but I was thinking MIST and even MINK at first. Throw in a clue for LAVA that had me shaking my head (and my fist)–I only know of Stromboli as a type of food, not a volcanic island; TWENTY for [White House bill] (is it only depicted on the $20?) and the Russian crossing of TROIKA and SITKA (who knew there ever was a Russian America?) and I had a tough day at the puzzle-solving desk. Did you find this one as EVIL ([Bad to the bone]) as I did?

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

LAT • 12/2/13 • Mon • Burnikel • solution

Yet another solid Monday offering by a constructor who seems to pump them out effortlessly. 61a DIAMOND HEAD, the [Volcanic Hawaiian landmark, and a hint to the first word of 17-, 24-, 37- and 50-Across] provides the lay of the land. Those first words can “head” phrases that conclude with “diamond.”

  • 17a. [Illegal activity admitted by Lance Armstrong in January 2013] BLOOD DOPING (blood diamond).
  • 24a. [Singer with Crosby, Stills & Nash] NEIL YOUNG (Neil Diamond). Though Young’s distinctive guitar playing and songwriting were equally if not more important, he did in fact sing with the other fellows. Neil Diamond’s a singer/songwriter/guitarist too.
  • 37a. [ESPN show with an "Inside Pitch" segment] BASEBALL TONIGHT (baseball diamond).
  • 50a. [Trousseau holder] HOPE CHEST (Hope Diamond). The gem is housed in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. Excellent use of “trousseau” in the clue.

Sure, a bit dry, but early-week puzzles are rarely innovative. The revealer presents a well-crafted setting for the four other theme answers.

  • When I didn’t receive the successfully solved notification upon completion, I knew the mistake had to be the crossing of 42a [Willem of "Platoon"] and 33a [Entrepeneur-aiding org.]. Ever since I became aware of the actor, it’s introduced an inability to easily remember the spelling of both his name—DAFOE—and that of the early English novelist Daniel DEFOE; prior to that I never had trouble spelling DEFOE. And in retrospect I see that the mysterious SB– is of course SBA, Small Business Association.
  • For the longish non-theme fill, I liked SECULAR and ARCANA in the upper portion better than O ROMEO and HEROINE in the lower. Must be those incisive, acerbic Cs and As. WHO CARES and GARFIELD, among the Downs, are quite good.
  • Slight duplication with 5d [Like rosebushes] THORNY and 35d [Optimistic] ROSY, which could easily have been avoided by cluing the former differently.
  • All four corners feel a bit choppy, despite two of them having triple six-stacks vertically (the crossing tripled-stacked threes seem to outweigh them—perhaps it’s that across fill inevitably feels more consequential, both consciously and subconsciously).
  • By cluing 65a ESKIMO in terms of the ice cream treat ESKIMO Pie, the controversial aspect of the name is mollified to a degree.

Fine crossword.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 12 2 13 “Themeless Monday”

I was blazing through this 72-worder until I hit the skids in the southwest quadrant. The clues for the three Down 7s? I was clueless. I had the ODES and the SCALPEL, and didn’t know what sort of -PLEXES we would have (CINE? no, MEGA). Trying MEGA finally led me towards a guess on 41d. [Having a certain ring, say]—ENGAGED. And then I was off to the races again. I know, I know—to some of you, a clue like 39d. [V = IR] is a flat-out gimme. So sue me. I’ve forgotten OHM’S LAW. DUE CARE, 40d. [Conduct that a reasonable person would exercise given the circumstances], feels slightly non-lexical-chunky.

Grid highlights: “LOOK AT THAT,” HOT PURSUIT, TWEEZE, MEGAPLEXES, TIME TO KILL, LOST ART, DATELINE, AGE SPOTS, TED NUGENT.

Didn’t know: 55a. [Former CIA officer Bob played by George Clooney in "Syriana"], BAER. Haven’t seen the movie. 15a. [Workplace explosion], OFFICE RAGE? That one’s new to me.

Fave clues:

  • 9d. [Ear marks, maybe?], AGE SPOTS.
  • 19a. ["___ Little Indians" (Sherman Alexie book)], TEN.
  • 64a. [His horses were Flame and Terror], ARES.
  • 1d. [Writing thank you notes, some say], LOST ART.
  • 38d. [Purdue student], OWL. BOILERMAKER wouldn’t fit. The clue may well be entirely incorrect, but I am kindly disposed towards the Purdue English Department’s OWL Online Writing Lab since I used the site yesterday to help my kid get his science fair project bibliography into APA style. I’ve found OWL to be a really good resource.

Four stars.

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8 Responses to Monday, December 2, 2013

  1. Gareth says:

    NYT: Unusual (but not unheard of) occurrence of being able to grok the theme at 1a and fill in all 4 theme answers’ first parts and completely fill in REDHERRINGS and HOODORNAMENT!

    LAT: I endorse most of what Pannonica says, especially the theme being solid, but most of all that the crossing of SBA/DAFOE is borderline unfair. One bad crossing doesn’t necessarily ruin a puzzle though, and I actually guessed right!

  2. lemonade714 says:

    How many Willems are there who are actors? He was awesome in MISSISSIPPI BURNING with Gene Hackman.

    • Bencoe says:

      To be fair to Gareth and Pannonica, it’s about the spelling of his name (“Defoe” being much more common) rather than the obscurity of the actor. Great actor with many great roles.

  3. Steven R. Stahl says:

    pannonica wrote And in retrospect I see that the mysterious SB– is of course SBA, Small Business Association.

    SBA actually stands for Small Business Administration.

    SRS

  4. Bencoe says:

    Just did the BEQ. A couple of difficult crossings. Blazed through some of it and got stuck a few times, ending up with about six minutes (on paper).
    The Purdue OWL is the Online Writing Lab, but the clue is actually “Rice Student” (after checking, i didn’t remember it that way either) so OWL is correct.

    • Richard says:

      Your memory was correct. The clue originally was to a “Purdue” student. BEQ corrected it after being called on it in a comment on his website. So, the initial clue was incorrect.

    • Brucenm says:

      Now I’m even more confused. The “Owl” clue in the version of the BEQ I downloaded was {Purdue Student}. But the Purdue nickname is “Boilermakers.” The “Owls” are from Temple. (Maybe Rice too, but I didn’t remember that.) There may be a Purdue “Writing Lab,” but why is the lab a “Purdue student?” (Or is the point that the clue was corrected in a subsequent version of the puzzle?) Anyhow, I liked the puzzle.

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