Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Jonesin' 4:33 (Amy) 
NYT 3:43 (Amy) 
LAT 3:09 (Amy) 
CS 6:57 (Ade) 
Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “This ‘n’ That”

Jonesin' crossword solution, 4 21 15 "This 'n' That"

Jonesin’ crossword solution, 4 21 15 “This ‘n’ That”

Took me a minute to see what the theme was here—take some “X and Y” phrases, elide the “and” into an “n” sound affixed to the end of the first word, and Bob’s your uncle:

  • 17a. [Skeleton’s weapon?], BONE ARROW. That’s “bow and arrow,” reclued for a skeleton’s bony context.
  • 25a. [Antiseptic used on muscle pulls?], SPRAIN WASH. Sprains are ligament injuries, not muscle pulls. Spray ‘N Wash laundry pre-treater.
  • 41a. [The rougher alter ego?], MEAN YOU, me and you. Tough crossing with 35d. [___ Impact Wrestling (wrestling league)], TNA.
  • 54a. [Act on misery loving company?], JOIN SORROW. Joy and sorrow. Clue reads awkwardly.
  • 68a. [Complaint during a bland Mad Lib?], NOUN AGAIN. Now and again.

Speaking of NOUN AGAIN—there are over 20 proper nouns in this grid, which means the puzzle will have been a real grind for some solvers. BUFFY, DWAYNE, and ZIPPO are nice inclusions, but not many people will have been excited to see ESSEN, OPIE, SEANN, and NES. In the non-name fill, I wasn’t so pleased by ALC, ESTOP, REOIL, and IN BIG, but YOWZA, SWANKY, and VANDALISM were nice bits.

The theme didn’t particularly grab me, and the fill didn’t quite make up for it. Also! I am tired and cranky, so perhaps I am predisposed to not like any puzzle. 3.33 stars from me.

Gerry Wildenberg’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 4 21 15, no. 0421

NY Times crossword solution, 4 21 15, no. 0421

The theme is a vowel progression using phrases with S.S. initials. Having just read a New Yorker article about Himmler and the S.S., this felt a hair jarring to me.

  • 17a. [Jewish observance], SATURDAY SABBATH.
  • 22a. [Hamburger bun topper], SESAME SEED. This is one of those rare crossword entries that works better in the plural. Can you picture a bun with one lonely sesame seed on it?
  • 33a. [Nursery rhyme character “going to the fair”], SIMPLE SIMON.
  • 49a. [Voting bloc from Reconstruction to the 1960s], SOLID SOUTH. Not a phrase I knew.
  • 55a. [Power strip part], SURGE SUPPRESSOR. What? “Surge protector” is far more common, no?

So the theme’s consistent in that the vowel progression passes through both words in each entry. However, the choice of phrases left some liveliness to be desired, and the vowel sounds aren’t the same in each word pair.

What else is in this puzzle? Here are seven things:

  • 3d. [Cézanne et 4-Verticale], ARTISTES. What on earth is 4-Verticale? Maybe art-critic/crossword-solver John Haber can enlighten me.
  • UMASS and UNH? Meh. One New England public university is plenty for one puzzle.
  • 27a. [Big Apple thoroughfare named in Rodgers and Hart’s “Manhattan”], MOTT ST. Is “street” abbreviated in the song?
  • 46d. [Hwy. cut into two parts by Lake Michigan], U.S. TEN. Except it’s U.S. 10, with numerals. No idea where it runs. Not through Chicago!
  • 47d. [Is out of alignment, as a car wheel], TOES IN. Unfamiliar term to me.
  • If you don’t know 37d. [N.F.L. Hall-of-Famer Bronko ___] NAGURSKI and you don’t know Indian cinema’s 39a. [Satyajit Ray’s “The ___ Trilogy”], APU, you may have had trouble with that A.
  • 12d. [Earth tones], OCHRES. No hint that it’s the more British spelling rather than OCHERS.

3.33 stars from me.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 203), “Tying One On”—Janie’s review

Crossword Nation 4/21 (No. 203)

Crossword Nation 4/21 (No. 203)

There’s a high “smile factor” in today’s puzzle as we find ourselves tying “-TY” to the end of either the first or last word of each of the four themers—each a solid base phrase in its own right. Let’s get right to it.

  • 17A. [Devotion to a jack-o-lantern?] PUMPKIN PIE{TY}. Shades of the Peanuts characters and the Great Pumpkin. Sweet. And a funny transformation conceptually.
  • 32A. [Snarky postal workers?] CAT{TY} CARRIERS. Another nice one. Notice, too, the cluing convention. There’s no reference to the base phrase as a whole. This is the way it’s s’posed to be here. Keeps the base phrase and the new phrase as discrete entities. Which is maybe why I was surprised (and not in an entirely happy way) by
  • 39A. [Small-minded British pop duo?] PET{TY} SHOP BOYS. I don’t really understand why it was necessary to reference the actual Pet Shop Boys in the clue. After all, the answer isn’t PET{TY} PET SHOP BOYS… Something like [Small-minded clerks?] woulda done it, and woulda prevented this entry from being the mismatched standout that it is. The “boys” have been a duo since 1981, btw, and they’re still recording, so it’s not like they’re unknowns or a pair who no longer have a presence in the music world. (If I’m being a small-minded blogger, so be it. Just sayin’ that where cluing themers is concerned, it’s best to stick by the established rule—whatever you make that rule to be.) On the positive side, the new phrase is terrific and fun in itself. I also love that the cat of the prior entry plus the pet of this one have a complement in the WAG [Puppy’s tail movement] pair down in the SW corner.
  • 54A. [Sleeping through a frat house beer bash?] NOT UP TO PAR{TY}. And we’re back on track with a fine finish.

The puzzle is further strengthened by two 10-letter downs: the gastronomic RUMP ROASTS and the geopolitical CITY-STATES (which, with the mention of [Sparta and Carthage], took me right back to 8th grade history class…). The foursome of seven-letter fill also fortifies the grid: BEMOANS; BUS TOUR, that physically [Moving experience for sightseers?]; YOKO ONO, there in her full-name glory; and the enthusiastic “WE DID IT!” [“Hooray for us!”]. So “WAHOO!” [“Yee-haw!”], too, while we’re at it!

Lady_deathstrike.4Two distinguished gentlemen get clued wonderfully today: EDISON with [Inventor who said, “The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around”], which might give all of us more incentive to take better care of it; and “Father of Geometry” EUCLID with [Greek teacher who knew all the angles?]. And who’s the scary broad keepin’ company with them in six-letter territory? Why, that Woverine-hating MUTANT [Marvel’s Lady Deathstrike…].

Had a good chuckle with the [It might eliminate an actor’s lines?] BOTOX combo (“Oh, please, can we tawk?”). And also enjoyed [Fight a losing battle?] for DIET and the way that ties into [Super-sized serving of wedding cake] for TIER (see Edison quote above, and please don’t super-size it!!).

But I’m not sure that [Parent of The Huffington Post] is an accurate descriptor for AOL. Arianna Huffington founded The HuffPo in 2005 but it didn’t come under the internet behemoth’s wing until 2011. That makes AOL its adoptive parent at best, no? [Ah. Now I see. Wiki defines “parent” here as “holding company”… So the term is technically accurate in the business world, but still feels “off” to me. Not unlike saying an actor “created” a role. Far more often than not, the actor “originated” the role and it was the playwright (or author) who “created” it.]

Apropos of almost nothing, simply want to add that I giggled when I noticed that GESSO follows ESSO in the grid. What can I say? That’s the kind of little detail that PEPS up my solving experience. Hope there was lots that pepped up your own. All those who approve: say “OTAY!”

Spring has finally sprung in NYC.  Hope you've been seeing this [Flower in a Monet painting] in abundance!

Spring has finally sprung in NYC. Hope you’ve been seeing this [Flower in a Monet painting] in abundance where you live!

John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 4 21 15

LA Times crossword solution, 4 21 15

Clean up! The BATH is the 57d. [Appropriate room for the sequence comprised of the starts of 18-, 27-, 47- and 59-Across]:

  • 18a. [Controversial coal-extraction process], STRIP MINING. You can strip off your clothes long before you reach the bathroom, depending on who else is home.
  • 27a. [Buy lots of presents for], SHOWER WITH GIFTS. I wonder if they have kidney showers to give presents to people who are welcoming a new organ to the family.
  • 47a. [Wry wit], DRY SENSE OF HUMOR.
  • 59a. [Opera house section], DRESS CIRCLE.

Now, depending on who comes into the bathroom while you’re showering, the central answer can also be part of your sequence: FLASH your glorious self if your partner enters the room. Free show!


Four clues:

  • 8d. [Like some military housing], ON POST. Started with ON BASE. Didn’t know ON POST was a phrase.
  • 13d. [Second lang., for some], ENG. I bet the number of people who speak English as a second language are outnumbered by those who speak it as a third, fourth, or more language.
  • 32d. [Astronomical red giant], S-STAR. *-STAR answers are never welcome sights to this solver.
  • 40d. [Old audio system], HI-FI. At my uncle’s 80th birthday party, we were passing around a list of retro things to see how many we remembered (party lines!), and my son asked me what a “hi-fi system” was.


Overall, the fill felt kind of dry to me. But the theme actually did surprise me when I reached the revealer, and that’s a big plus on a Tuesday. 3.9 stars from me.


Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Starting Gun”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.21.15: "Starting Gun"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.21.15: “Starting Gun”

Good morning, everyone! Hope you’re all doing well. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, is another “fun with puns” grid, just like yesterday. This time, common terms and/or proper nouns are altered by adding the letters “REV” at the beginning of each of the terms to create the puns.

  • REVAMPS UP (17A: [Does a makeover on the top floors?]) – From “amps up.”
  • REVLON CHANEY (29A: [Apt title for a monstrous cosmetics executive?]) – From “Lon Chaney.” Can someone work on the lyrics of a song called Werewolves of Revlon?
  • REVERIE CANAL (46A: [Site for daydreaming on a gondola?]) – From “Erie Canal.”
  • REVEL NIÑO (62A: [Spanish party boy?]) – From “El Niño.”

The puns weren’t as strong as the ones for yesterday, especially with the noun form of revel(s) usually referring to the actual party/occasion instead of a person (at least from how I have interpreted the word over the years). The clue to LOVE made me think about one question in the sport that, interestingly enough, a lot of people who do crosswords really like: will Roger Federer ever win another major singles title (34D: [It means nothing to Roger Federer])? In my heart of hearts, I don’t think he will, but a good number of people still think he has one more Wimbledon title in him. What do you think? Elsewhere, SEE ME might be a popular crossword answer, but has anyone come across a note (or email) like that from a boss anytime in recent memory (67A: [Terse note from the boss])? Well, actually, I hope that hasn’t happened to you, now thinking of it. That’s probably more likely to be a note from a teacher to a student who keeps failing exams. I was actually trying to think of a man with the first name of May, to try and counter the clue for GIRL’S NAME, but, alas, I wasn’t successful (11D: [May, say])

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NY METS (48A: [“Miracle” team of 1969]) – Fun fact: the NY METS’ pitching ace during the 1969 season, Tom Seaver, was initially signed in 1966 by the Atlanta Braves. But the contract he signed with Atlanta was rescinded by the commissioner of baseball because he was signed after Seaver’s college, USC, started its baseball season. (Those were the rules at the time.) Afterward, the Mets were entered in a lottery with two other teams that were willing to sign Seaver to a contract equivalent to what the Braves signed him to, the Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Phillies, in order to earn his rights. The Mets ended up winning that drawing, and the rest, as they say, is history.

See you all at the top of the hump on Hump Day tomorrow! Have a good day…

Take care!


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19 Responses to Tuesday, April 21, 2015

  1. sbmanion says:

    When my family and I traveled from Jacksonville, FL to Phoenix, the direction was take I 10. I still travel on the I 10 every day here in Phoenix. I was surprised to see that there was a northern east-west route called U.S. 10. I lived in Wisconsin for a while and even in Appleton, which Wikipedia says it goes through, but I don’t recall seeing any U.S. 10 signs.

    Enjoyed the puzzle.


  2. Martin says:

    I just gotta defend IN BIG in Matt’s puzzle. (George Barany and myself were criticized for using IN BIG last year too). For me, IN BIG is a good crossword entry because, at least around my parts, it’s a common slang phase. Usually meaning that somebody has pretty much bet the farm on some endeavour, or has a lot at stake. It certainly stands by itself as a complete phrase… and a current one to boot. I’d not hesitate to use it again (over many other 5-letter words). Also, I’m pretty sure it’s not a Canadianism either. What say the rest of the you?


    • David L says:

      Not a familiar expression to me. If you said someone was IN BIG my first thought would be that he is in trouble, in deep doo-doo.

    • pannonica says:

      Didn’t do that puzzle. IN BIG sounds like one of the senses of ALL IN. Yes?

    • maikong says:


      In my growing up area (Ohio-Ky-WVa where they border each other on the Ohio River) we used “in big” as you do. He is “in big” with that group or whatever. Even as a kid we would say she’s/he’s “in big with them”!!!!

  3. Martin says:

    Re the Pet Shop Boys: they are still going, not only recording albums, but have recently composed a ballet that premiered at London’s Sadlers Wells, and a cantata dedicated to Alan Turing that was premiered at the BBC proms recently. They are turning into formidable composers (but then again, they almost always wrote most of their music).

    Sorry… couldn’t resist, good to see them in a puzzle, eh, Francis (Heaney)?


  4. Chaitanya says:

    I’m guessing 4-Verticale refers to 4-Down as in Cézanne and Seurat are both artistes.

    I defer to the french speakers to let us know if verticale is indeed used for down in french crosswords.

  5. David L says:

    Oh well, we’re back to tired old EMOTER = ‘ham’ cluing… That Al Pacino, he’s such an emoter, said no one ever.

    Also, TOES IN doesn’t necessarily mean ‘out of alignment.’ The front wheels on your are supposed to toe in a little, meaning that your vehicle is slightly pigeon-toed. Provides better stability, or something.

    SURGE SUPPRESSOR doesn’t seem bad to me — maybe it’s not so common but I’ve certainly heard it.

    Nice puzzle overall. A bit more challenging than your average Tuesday. And with three universities!

    • sbmanion says:

      Athletically, TOES IN is often a marker of speed and athleticism. There are many great athletes who are pigeon-toed, including some of the fastest in the world. OJ Simpson was one famous example. SLUE (or is it SLEW?)-FOOTED on the other hand is an athletic death knell. If someone runs like a duck, they have little or no chance of being a good athlete.


      • David L says:

        Good point – Andre Agassi too. He was quite pigeon-toed and often took short stutter-steps, but he got into position for his shots amazingly well.

  6. Martin from Charlottesville says:


    Re NY Times puzzle comment: “22a. [Hamburger bun topper], SESAME SEED. This is one of those rare crossword entries that works better in the plural. Can you picture a bun with one lonely sesame seed on it?”

    “Seed” is plural (as well as singular), e.g.: “I’m off to the Southern States to buy grass seed.” The example sentence makes me chuckle, because it reminds me that there are folks (mainly in cities) who haven’t heard of the farming supplies co-op, and might, in theory believe I am heading down to the Sunbelt merely to buy grass seed. As some people might go to Seattle partly for the coffee, or to New York City partly for the bagels.

    Part of me wishes that the clues for “ochre,” “labour,” “grey,” and the like would include “(Brit.)”; part thinks that the idea of the puzzle is to solve things, and that hey, there’s more of a puzzle to solve, and thus more of an ego boost at the end.

    • Martin says:

      Signaling OCHRE as British would be incorrect, since the dictionary doesn’t. Compare ochre with, say, fibre dictionary entries. “Ochre” has been deemed standard for American usage in a way that “centre” and “fibre” have not.

      The Times editorial policy looks askance at clues making assertions like “obsolete,” “variant” or “chiefly British” that are not backed by lexicographical authority.

      OCHRE could be clued as a variant, but not a Britishism.

      • Zulema says:

        Not even a variant, OCHRE is seen much more often, IMO.

      • Martin from Charlottesville says:

        Webster’s New World College Dictionary 3rd ed. lists “ochre” as a variant, so it wouldn’t offend me if the clue did also.

        But I was surprised to find 554,000 hits for “ocher” and 8,440,000 hits for “ochre.”

        Point taken.

  7. Gareth says:

    This is weird… SOLIDSOUTH was a gimme for me, and US politics is not exactly one of my strong points. I can’t tell you that much about it other than Barry Goldwater conquered it, though I don’t know how. I also don’t know how he still didn’t get to be president after that… I’m sure someone will come along to pontificate though. (Or I could just… you know, look it up.)

    • Bencoe says:

      Barry Goldwater cracked it in 1964 due to his brand of (then ultra-right, but by today’s standards, Reagan-moderate) conservativism. But at the time he was seen as a dangerous warmonger by a lot of mainstream Americans and he lost the election in a landslide. Afterwards, George Wallace became the poster boy for the Southern political ideal, but Nixon found a way to get the majority of Southern former-Democrats to switch to the Republican Party.
      I wasn’t alive then, but this is my historical understanding.

  8. ArtLvr says:

    Re “SOLID SOUTH” — From the end of the Civil War to 1960 Democrats had solid control over the southern states in presidential elections, (still hating “Republican” Lincoln), hence the term “Solid South” to describe the South’s Democratic preference. After the passage of the Civil Act of 1964, however, their willingness to support Republicans on a presidential level increased. Goldwater won many of the “Solid South” states over Democratic candidate Lyndon Johnson, himself a Texan, and with many this Republican support continued and seeped down the ballot to congressional, state, and ultimately local levels. Thus a total reversal since the 1960s, as the Southern conservatives like Jesse Helms and George Wallace still tried to quash black civil rights, but this backlash continues today in Republican-controlled states even outside the South!

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