Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Jonesin' 4:32 (Amy) 
NYT 3:08 (Amy) 
LAT 2:47 (Amy) 
CS 7:55 (Ade) 
Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 

Happy Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras! Have a paczki if you didn’t already have it last week on Fat Thursday.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Solve Like a Pirate “

Jonesin' crossword solution, 2 17 15, "Solve Like a Pirate"

Jonesin’ crossword solution, 2 17 15, “Solve Like a Pirate”

It’s not that dr-r-readful Talk Like a Pirate Day nonsense till September, but here Matt’s adding an “arr” sound to the start of four familiar phrases, turning them into a sort of Wheel of Fortune “Before and After” thing:

  • 16a. [The color of believing you can fly?], R. KELLY GREEN.
  • 27a. [Garfield’s call when Jon has fallen?], “ARBUCKLE DOWN!”
  • 42a. [Creature surrounded by bamboo and other trees?], ARBORED PANDA. Bored Panda is a website that has some stuff that goes viral. ARBORED is a rather blah sort of word, though.
  • 56a. [Food advertised with the line: “Keep on Truckin’… and Snackin'”?], R. CRUMB CAKES.

I got the R. ones first so it took me a while to figure out the AR- ones. Wasn’t expecting that.

Three more things:

  • 48a. [“___ with Lovin'” (McDonald’s promo of February 2015)], PAY. Dreadful! You want your damn burger, and the poor cashier must instruct you to do something like ask another customer to dance so that they can give you your burger for free. Listen, if you order at the counter, you’re prepared to pay the money and you don’t want no malarkey.
  • 37d. [Tears for Fears hit redone for “Donnie Darko”], MAD WORLD. Never heard of it, but hey, two common words together makes for a plausible phrase.
  • 11d. [Conflicts in China], OPIUM WARS. Lively historical entry.

Blah bits include NOS and YESES, EL AL and ELIS, OREM and SMEE. Overall rating, 3.85 stars.

Bruce Haight’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 2 17 15, no. 0217

NY Times crossword solution, 2 17 15, no. 0217

Woof! Cute dog theme. There’s a picture of a dog in the grid (looks a tad schnauzerish), a 16-letter dog-related song title, a bunch of words that double as dog breeds, and no grid symmetry.

  • 22a. [2000 novelty hit … or a hint to the answers to the nine starred clues], WHO LET THE DOGS OUT. By the Baha Men. Really wish 61d. AS A wasn’t clued [Sick ___ dog], as it detracts from the canine theme.
  • 1a. [Enemy of the pictured animal], CAT. Quasi-thematic.
  • 11a. [*Fruit juice brand], POM. Pomeranian, pomegranate juice.
  • 53a. [*Relentless pursuer], BLOODHOUND.
  • 66a. [*Like Lauren Bacall’s voice], HUSKY.
  • 1d. [*Grub], CHOW.
  • 3d. [Pooch in Oz], TOTO. Quasi-thematic. No ASTA, luckily.
  • 4d. [*One working on a canvas?], BOXER. Would be nice not to clue 33d. ENCASE as [Box up].
  • 10d. [*Darwin’s ship], BEAGLE.
  • 34d. [*Volleyball position], SETTER. This one’s vague, as there are Irish setters, English setters, and Gordon setters.
  • 47d. [*Kind of skirt or haircut], POODLE.
  • 56d. [*___ nose], PUG. There were both a pug and a poodle featured in the movie Kingsman.

No symmetry to the placement of the theme answers, either.

The theme’s cute, but there’s an awful lot of crosswordese and whatnot holding everything together. OONA, ORA, ARLO, -ENNE, -CRAT, NCOS, EWER, UKES, DONEE, AMAH, AN EEL, OR TO, ESAU, NTHS, AS A, and TYR include a number of “Really? On a Tuesday?” entries.

Four stars for the dog business, 2.5 stars for the lowlights in the fill, maybe 3.4 stars overall.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 194), “You Can Say That Again!”—Janie’s review

Crossword Nation 2/17 (No. 194)

Crossword Nation 2/17 (No. 194)

Themers made of unlikely (but not impossible)-imaginative-whimsical rhymed pairs double the pleasure implied in the title of today’s puzzle. There are four of ’em, and they come to us by way of:

  • 17A. CAMPY SCAMPI [Over-the-top shrimp dish?]. Perhaps made with jumbo shrimp, elephant garlic, this bottle of Montrachet Chardonnay—and presented while wearing a boa?
  • 29A. CANDLE SCANDAL [Tabloid gossip about a wicked thing?]. Ooh. Sneaky clue. Not the two-syllable adjective “wicked” as in “evil” but the one syllable homonym meaning, well, “having a wick”…
  • Beetle Antique German Mould
    With more scarab molds here!
  • 45A. COLLAR SCHOLAR [Intellectual who’s expert in dog accessories?]. Or Vanessa Bayer sending up Fifty Shades of Grey?
  • 61A. CAROB SCARAB [Egyptian charm made with a chocolate substitute?]. Hah! This one actually looks to be reality-based!

Not a complex theme, but fun, and elegantly executed. Notice that although the words rhyme, there’s always a spelling change involved. Then, among the non-themers, we get bonus rhymes in a couple of the clues: [Jumbo Dumbo feature] for EAR (though maybe this would more accurately clue EARS…) and [Quote from a goat] for “MAA…”

Those triple eights in the SW and NE also class-up the joint. And some of the cluing there, too, ups the ante. So, here’s lookin’ at you: TV CAMERA [Oprah has faced one for years], the lively HOOLIGAN (possibly a more grown up IMP) and ENLARGED [Made it big?] (a functional word with a fun-filled, punny clue); IMPLODED [Burst inward, as a failed soufflé], “SAYONARA!” [“Bye, Yoko!”] (and more Pacific Island language with “MAHALO” and [Hawaiian “thank you”]), and HAM SALAD.

Love the peppy “VAMOOSE!” [“Scram!”] (did you know about its Spanish origins?), and the punny clue [You can rest your butt there] for ASH TRAY. (Though this may not be correct…, I think of “butt” in the anatomical sense as being related—by its proximity to where it originates—to SCUT [Bunny’s tail]. “Scuttlebutt” is different altogether…)

Several clues gave me pause—either because of the “didn’t-know-that” factor or the “that’s just tricky” factor.

  • Am familiar with Roman poet OVID, but had no knowledge of “Fasti.”
  • [Asian mountain range] is ALAI (and not ARAL…; note to self: “Remember this one!”)
  • PGA star [Golfer ROCCO Mediate] was completely new to me, but is that a great name or what?; Grammy-winning author NEELA Vaswani? also brand-new to me, so I needed all the crosses.
  • [Drive back?] for THRU is telling us we’re looking for a suffix—or something that comes after the word “drive” (she reminded herself…); and [Forward-thinking person?] for ORACLE is about someone who can see into the future, but is not necessarily a progressive being.

Finally, loved seeing both HOME EC [Domestic science] and NEW DAD [One who’s changing diapers] in the same puzzle. My guess is that there are a lotta new dads assisting with/taking full responsibility for infant care these days, and a lotta guys and dads in general whose domestic skills would give any woman’s a run for her money. Balance. It’s a beautiful thang!

Imploded soufflé.  Not such a beautiful thang...

Ouch. Imploded soufflé. Not such a beautiful thang…

Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 2 17 15

LA Times crossword solution, 2 17 15

“Way” is the name of the game here: WAY TO GO is in the center of the puzzle (39a. [“Nice job!” … and, in another sense, a hint about the first words of 18-, 23-, 52- and 60-Across]), and the four longer themers begin with words that can precede “way.”

  • 18a. [Particularly welcome casino visitor], HIGH ROLLER. Highway.
  • 23a. [Court case that generates a media frenzy, say], CAUSE CELEBRE. Not sure why “court case” is in the clue; that’s overspecific. Causeways are things we don’t have in Chicago.
  • 52a. [Abe Lincoln nickname], RAIL SPLITTER. Railway.
  • 60a. [Irritate to the breaking point], DRIVE CRAZY. Driveway.

I do tend to find “words that can precede/follow” themes a tad dull.

Five things:

  • 45a. [Bitten by bees], STUNG. Um, no. A bug bites with its mouth. The bee’s stinger is much closer to its rectum than its mouth.
  • 1a. [Command from a bailiff], OYEZ. We used to see this a lot more often in crosswords, and I’m pretty sure none of us were missing it. I fret that perhaps this corner’s X and Z were deemed worthy goals despite the cost of opening the puzzle with OYEZ. Let’s see … you could change ZYDECO to COSTCO and have AC/DC, COCO, ENOS, and YENTL crossing ACEY-deucey (yuck), CONE, and D-CON. Or EPIC, BONO, ALAS, YENTL crossing EBAY, POLE, partial IN AN, and COSTCO. Better than OYEZ and EXED? I vote yes.
  • 38a. [Tee sizes, for short], S/M/L. Tired of seeing this entry in so many puzzles. Have you shopped for t-shirts? Sometimes the rack of women’s shirts has XS, S, M, L, and XL, while the men’s goes M, L, XL, XXL. Nobody ever seems to offer just SML.
  • 56a. [Diet food phrase], NO FAT. Isn’t “fat-free” a good 10 times more common?
  • Between OYEZ, ORO, VEE atop ELL, NADER’S, RHEE, EXED, ENL, VEN, ATH, ISLETS, ULNA, OTT, SSR, ARON, and EDSEL, there was a lot in the fill that had me both yawning and fretting over the satisfaction of newer solvers who’ve not yet committed these entries to memory.

Three stars from me.

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Who’s in There?”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, 02.17.15: "Who's in There?"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, 02.17.15: “Who’s in There?”

Hello everyone of this Fat Tuesday! Hope all is well with you. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, is out of the world of mystery, as the word “who” is hidden in each of the four theme answers, as it spans two different words in the entry.

  • YOU KNOW HOW IT IS (20A: [“Sorry, that’s the way I roll”]) – Some urban slang controversy, maybe?! I’m totally fine with this answer after thinking about it for a couple of minutes, but I’m sure a few others solving the puzzle would either have a nit to pick or be completely lost with this modern lingo.
  • THROW HOME (35A: [Try to prevent a runner from scoring]) – Home? Where the catcher is? I thought Who was on first base!! (In the Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First” skit, the catcher’s name is Today.)
  • SHOW HORSE (45A: [Circus parader])
  • BLOW HOT AND COLD (55A: [Change moods readily])

The alternate title to this grid should be “Oodles of O’s,” since the first thing I noticed about the completed grid is the abundance of Os. Outside of all of the theme answers having the letter O immediately precede the letters “who,” there were multiple Os in ODOUR (4D: [Kent scent]), MARIO PUZO (10D: [He wrote “Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family”]) and COOKE (54D: [“Chain Gang” singer Sam]). Though this entry had only one O, I’m pretty sure this was the first time I have come across DOXY in a puzzle (2D: [Ortho ending]). Earworm of the day, along with Cooke’s “Chain Gang,” comes with the entry LYIN (60D: [Like the eyes in an Eagles song title]). By the way, I’m in Washington D.C. as we speak covering a college basketball game, and, of course. I’m here to cover the HOYAS as they take on St. John’s tonight (64A: [Georgetown athletes]). From a proud Syracuse University alum, here’s what I have to say to all Georgetown alumni and supporters out there: Your mother’s a Hoya!


“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OCHO (28A: [Cuatro y cuatro]) – Former National Football League wide receiver Chad Johnson played most of his career with the Cincinnati Bengals (starting in 2001), and for his entire career as a Bengal, he wore the number 85. From 2008 until 2012, Johnson legally changed his name to Chad Ochocinco, and, for at least one season, his name tag on his jersey read “OCHO CINCO,” the Spanish words for eight and five. Yes, he actually did that.  And yes, there is evidence.


See you all on Hump Day! You know how I roll!

Take care!


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23 Responses to Tuesday, February 17, 2015

  1. Zulema says:

    It’s true there is a lot of dull fill, but who cares? Yay for the doggy theme and all the doggies showing up, including a real picture of a wooden? dog. I guess this is in conjunction with Westminster and I for one appreciate the shout-out. Makes me feel better about taking mine out three times a day in this arctic weather we are having. This morning it was 1º above. Thank you, creator and editor.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: Landed exactly where Amy did.

    Janie, that imploded souffle is pathetically hilarious/hilariously pathetic.

    And I have to say, whatever our complaints about modern times, the awesomeness of so many young dads is something to celebrate. I’m happy my son is one of them.

    • janie says:

      ah, that sad soufflé. d’you suppose the cook missed home ec class the day “excellence with eggs” was covered?


  3. SEMINOLE SAM says:


  4. pop culturist says:

    I wish you’d have at least explained the references to the theme answers in the Jonesin’

    Never heard of the R entries. And yes, my handle is a joke.

  5. Dook says:

    The NYT is dog-themed because the Westminster Kennel Show is on today at Madison Square Garden. It is also Fashion Week. Somewhere in town, there is a fashion show for dog wear. Woof!

  6. Papa John says:

    A digital clock with an AM/PM toggle switch?!?! I want one! (NYT 45A)

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Yeah, in a discussion group, there’s been talk about this today. We can find an AM/FM toggle switch easily, but nobody seems to have an AM/PM toggle switch. Most clock radios and alarm clocks don’t even have AM/PM buttons, much less switches. My microwave oven does have an AM/PM button for setting the clock, but it entirely lacks radio functionality.

      It’s a dumb and/or misleading clue to specify a clock RADIO if AM/FM isn’t the intended answer.

      If anyone has an actual clock radio with a discrete toggle switch for AM and PM, please share! Otherwise this clue just looks like a mistake.

    • Papa John says:

      I was serious — I want one.

      So, as soon as I saw Meem’s post (below), I went to Amazon and checked it out. Some radio you got there, Meem. It lists for a whopping $249. Reading about all its features, it may well be worth it, albeit it gets only three out of five stars from 68 reviews. Since most of the value of the radio is in its HQ reception, I’m afraid it would do me little good, since my radio reception is near zilch – but it does have that dandy toggle switch…

      Let’s start a campaign to have the same technology installed in less expensive models of alarm clock or, for that matter, on any 24-hour clock. Who’s with me?

  7. Meem says:

    My Boston Acoustics clock radio has an am/pm toggle on the “set alarm” function.

  8. Martin from Charlottesville Va says:

    In the Washington Post puzzle for Tuesday, I like how 67 A “Classic Welles role” is directly atop 70A “Downhill racer.”

  9. JohnV says:

    Didn’t get the panda/song cross. Guessed L not D.

  10. oeuftete says:

    The placement of the “hydrant” clue in the NYT couldn’t have been an accident, right?

  11. Jeanie says:

    Will there be a review of the Tim Croce puzzle? Maybe I’m looking in the wrong place.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Hi, Jeanie. We’ve pretty much reached peak puzzle here at Fiend. If we were to blog Tim’s puzzles, we’d be honor-bound to also blog the puzzles from the other independent sites—Erik Agard, Andy Kravis, Evan Birnholz, Peter Broda, Andrew Ries, Todd McClary, Sam Ezersky, and whoever else throws their hat into the ring (it’s going to be an endless stream of people, no? and with variable quality?). I sure don’t have an extra 8 hours a week for unpaid blogging work, and I can’t ask the rest of the volunteer team to take that on, either.

  12. ahimsa says:

    Late comment but I enjoyed the NYT doggy theme!

    I thought maybe RCA was also a nod to the theme (Nipper and “His master’s voice” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nipper ), but maybe not.

  13. Jeanie says:

    Thanks,Amy. I mostly wanted to see the right answers,but I think he publishes them the following week.:-)

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