Wednesday, May 13, 2015

NYT  6:04 (Derek) 
AV Club 5:51 (Amy) 
LAT 4:41 (Gareth) 
CS 8:44 (Ade) 

Jeffrey Wechsler’s New York Times crossword

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 10.15.41 PMToday’s NYT is a tribute to the entry at 61A – [Noted director/actor born in May 1915] – ORSON WELLES.  The other theme entries:

  • 19A – [Directorial triumph for 61 – Across] – CITIZEN KANE
  • 24A – [Film featuring 61 – Across] – THE THIRD MAN
  • 32A – [61 – Across’s role in 24 – Across] – HARRY LIME
  • 39A, 43A – [With 43 – Across, panic-inducing production of 61 – Across] THE WAR  OF THE WORLDS
  • 52A – [1958 film by 61 – Across] – TOUCH OF EVIL

citizen kane the third man touch of evil

A nice little tribute.  Seems familiar.  I have seen Citizen Kane, I have not seen The Third Man, I have never even heard of Touch of Evil.  All before my time.  I am 45 years old.  I should listen to that radio broadcast of War of the Worlds.  When I first saw Citizen Kane, which I think is absolutely one of the best films I have ever seen, I couldn’t believe these two were the same man:

orson1 orson2i

I’m pretty sure my earliest exposure to Orson Welles was in those old wine commercials! Remember the line, “We will sell no wine…before its time!” And let’s not forget his classic role in the popular piece of cinematic gold, The Muppet Movie. So you can imagine my shock at seeing the baby-faced Orson Welles in Citizen Kane!

Solved in 6:04 on my NYT solving tool of choice, the iPad app.  That’s about right for me.  And it’s one of the things that I think is most comforting about the NYT puzzles: you can easily gauge your solving prowess by how well you do for each day of the week. Even if you’re not timing it, your level of frustration is pretty even per each day. Great way to assess your skill level.

Having said all that, this puzzle didn’t fall easily. Having never seen The Third Man, I am unfamiliar with Harry Lime. I didn’t know ISCHIA (5-D [Tourist island in the Gulf of Naples]). But some of the fill was quite good, especially in the upper left and lower right corners with the 9-letter vertical stacks.  Some notes:

  • 47-A [Akio who co-founded Sony] – MORITA – I know Pat Morita.  Hope that Sony company is successful….
  • 49-A [Many a pilgrim to Mecca] – SHIA – Again, another chance for a movie reference, but it is actually nice to see this clued other than [Actor LaBeouf]
  • 70-A [Johnson of comedy] – ARTE – My first thought: is he still alive?? Evidently he is, and a robust 86 years old at that!
  • 37-D [What the original Kama Sutra lacked, surprisingly] – EROTIC ART – yes, that is a surprise…
  • 39-D [Number of graduates in the first class at West Point (1802)] – TWO – Now this was a nice clue.  You learn something new every day.  I’ll have to Google that for more info.

Let’s call it 3.75 stars.  Nicely done.


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

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.13.15: "The Gamut"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.13.15: “The Gamut”

Welcome to Hump Day, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, takes common phrases and alters them to puns by changing the “A” located within the answer into a “Z.” Would have thought this would be a tough theme to execute, with trying to find terms with just one A and turning it into a Z, but, as you can see, it got done and done pretty well.

  • GETZ, MOVE ON (17A: [“Take your saxophone, Stan, and leave the premises!”?]) – From “get a move on.”
  • SPLIT PEZ (26A: [Share some dispensable candy?]) – From “split pea.”
  • METZ PHYSICS (36A: [Science class in a French city on the Moselle River?]) – From “metaphysics.” Sad news for soccer fans in Metz: the local soccer club, FC Metz, was just relegated from France’s top soccer league, Ligue 1.
  • ZERO BICS (49D: [Absolutely zero ballpoints?]) – From “aerobics.”
  • LOVELY RITZ (59D: [Comment from a person enamored of a Nabisco cracker?]) – From “Lovely Rita.” I usually eat Premium unsalted crackers, thank you very much!

For the longest time, I was just not a gum chewer despite being a huge baseball card collector, so I missed out on all of the BAZOOKA gum that I could have chewed on (39D: [Bubble gum brand since 1947]). Though I always was wary of trying any gum that was put in a pack of cards, instead of a package with other gum sticks. Speaking of foods I don’t eat, you can BIG MAC on that category as well (1D: [Whopper rival]). I’m pretty sure ABT was an entry in a crossword or two that I’ve done before, and those probably also referenced Baryshnikov’s place of business, but definitely needed the crosses to get it today (43D: [Baryshnikov’s former dance co.]). Being a resident of Central New York while in college, ONEIDA was a gimme, and brought back memories of freezing my tail off in the winters up there (2D: [New York tribe, city or lake])

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TITTLE (47A: [Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A.]) – Here’s a few facts about Pro Football Hall of Famer Y.A. TITTLE; his initials stand for Yelberton Abraham (Yelberton isn’t a name you see everyday, huh?); he was the first quarterback to throw 30 touchdown passes in back-to-back-seasons, doing so in 1962 and 1963 for the New York Giants; and he’s also the subject of one of the most famous photos in sports, as he was left bloodied and without his helmet on a play between the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1964, his last season in the National Football League. Here’s the photo, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


Thank you for your time, and I’ll see you on Thursday!

Take care!


Tyler Hinman’s AV Club crossword, “Stuffed in the Trunk”

AV Club crossword solution, 5 13 15 "Stuffed in the Trunk"

AV Club crossword solution, 5 13 15 “Stuffed in the Trunk”

The title had me looking for “junk in the trunk” slang lurking in the theme answers, but there was none. Eventually, after I’d finished the whole puzzle, the theme came together for me: The revealer is POSTNASAL DRIP (53a. [Affliction that, read a certain way, appears in this puzzle’s three theme answers]) because each made-up phrase is a familiar phrase that ends with a word that can also be slang for “nose,” and then the word that’s added can also be a synonym for the “unpleasant person” sort of DRIP:

  • 20a. [What a vet gives a pet so he’ll accept his restraint?], DOG MUZZLE PILL. The dog can wear a muzzle on its muzzle, which the nose is on the end of. I have never once called a person a pill, but I’ve certainly read the insult.
  • 32a. [Slowdown caused by a protuberance on a riding horse’s back?], SADDLE HORN DRAG. Not sure who or what’s nose is a “horn.”
  • 39a. [Hole produced by a rolled-up Washington?], DOLLAR BILL BORE. Birds have bills in a nose-like location.

Either Tyler is much afflicted by allergies this spring, or other people have complained too much of theirs and it’s infiltrated his brain. The theme didn’t do much for me. Maybe it’s because the made-up phrases aren’t funny? The phrase POSTNASAL DRIP is inherently more funny than 20a, 32a, and 39a.

Five more things:

  • 48a. [Poetic term for what the Rolling Stones lyric “she blew my nose and then she blew my mind” contains], ZEUGMA. The figure of speech in which a word applies to two different things in entirely different ways.
  • 40d. [Respond to blandness, as a chef might], ADD SALT. Feels arbitrary, and also hostile. (I am watching my salt.) (Not saying Tyler is hostile. I adore Tyler.)
  • 33d. [Knee surgery that might put an athlete out for a year], ACL REPAIR. Love this entry.
  • 11d. [Parodist of the Major-General’s Song], TOM LEHRER. Honestly? I don’t know Tom Lehrer’s stuff. I hear it’s very funny, but if you have trouble making out the words, the funny will be hard to find.
  • 50d. [Purple candy’s flavor, ostensibly], GRAPE. How did that particular flavor come to mean “grape” when we all know the vast majority of the grapes we eat taste nothing like that? Warning: Avoid the Grāpple brand apple—it is nothing more than a regular apple with Concord grape flavoring added. Unless you hanker for an apple that tastes like grape candy …

3.5 stars from me. Solid fill, crisp clues (12d. [“To an Overused Crossword Clue,” say] for ODE is cute, though I would have made it “To an Overused Crossword Answer”), lackluster theme.

Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 150513

LA Times

I’m impressed by the theme, though it’s a simple one – finding four colourful ways to, more or less, say [“Wait there’s more…”]: COMETOTHINKOFIT, BEFOREIFORGET, THATREMINDSME and ANDANOTHERTHING – is quite impressive.

Four spanners (2×15, 2×13) lends itself to a grid comprised of mostly small sections. There are a few longer answers – the guess-how-it’s-spelt-today PUHLEASE (I prefer this spelling, in fact), plus DRPHIL and a RAGTOP. Mostly the rest of the puzzle is a quiet, fairly well-balanced grid. MSDOS I recently decided to eschew in a puzzle I was working on, as it’s dated, and from a time most people were still terrified of using computers. But I can see the arguments for maintaining its crossword use too.

There’s not much more to say. Re [Stops bleeding], CLOTS, I remember a path prof sagely observing, “All bleeding stops eventually, one way or another.” Words to live by!

3.5 Stars

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14 Responses to Wednesday, May 13, 2015

  1. huda says:

    Thanks for the nice write-up. For a minute there, I thought Amy was losing her touch, taking a whole 6 minutes on a Wednesday. It’s comforting to hear from mere mortals (or demi-gods?)

    Yeah, Orson Welles did change a lot– I like the older version better…

    The puzzle flowed easily except for certain spots like the MORITA-MOSSES intersection that took some guess work. And I threw the L in LIME last and was surprised to see Mr. Happy Pencil, as it took a few beats for the brownie/elf connection to compute.

    Yay! A name that’s a gimme at last. I know Donna SHALALA -Very nice lady. She’s leaving the presidency of the other UM (U. of Miami) soon and will head the Clinton Foundation.

    Nice tribute puzzle.

    • Derek Allen says:

      Thanks for the kind words. Amy is a WAAY better speed solver than I am. In my feeble defense, I’m usually not in a hurry. As a matter of fact, I usually start a puzzle by going through all the across clues, then all the down clues, and repeat that process until the puzzle is full. Not exactly the quickest strategy, but easier on the thumbs. I will view Amy’s routine of 4:00 Wednesday solve times as a mark to aspire to … someday …

  2. Ghg says:

    Ok. I give. What is the browniw/elf connection?

    • Huda says:

      A brownie is a small creature in Scottish folklore, like an elf or a hobgoblin.

      • Derek Allen says:

        I actually looked this up in the dictionary, and 11C has elf as the FIRST definition of “brownie,” above (2) budding Girl Scouts, and (3) the dessert! How is the dessert def not #1??

    • pannonica says:

      Brownie is also a classic Kodak camera, and Canon makes the ELPH. But that isn’t what the clue is about.

  3. Martin from Charlottesville says:

    The answer to 7 Down [Out of moves in chess] was MATED, but another answer that really fit the clue was STALEMATE.

    A stalemate occurs when the player’s king is not in check, and the player cannot make a legal move with any piece. The player is truly “out of moves.” Often, the king is the only piece that can move, yet any move by the king will place it in check. When a stalemate occurs, the game is declared a draw, or tie.

  4. Dook says:

    The Third Man, directed by Carol Reed, and filmed in post-war Vienna is a gorgeous film with great music and performances. As good as a director as Reed was, Welles clearly had a hand in the directing as well. Once you watch it, you’ll want to see again many times. Touch of Evil is brilliant, gorgeous and terrifying. Opening shot is quite famous. Everyone in it is doing their best work, especially Heston and Leigh. Dietrich, in a smaller role, manages to steal the entire film.

    • The Keystone Nabs says:

      Found The Third Man pretty boring. Seem to remember reading that its reputation has grown through the years, that it wasn’t considered great initially.

  5. pannonica says:

    NYT: Touch of Evil has received belated recognition as a masterpiece, often called the greatest B-movie of all time. Famous lengthy opening tracking shot, fun H Mancini score, C Heston unconvincingly, hilariously cast as a Mexican lawman. The Third Man is another classic, directed by Carol Reed (though some assert that Welles had a hand in that); Welles’ Harry Lime makes one of the greatest cinema entrances ever, as pretty much all the other characters have been talking about him, building anticipation, for what seems like nearly half the film. It’s also the source of that famous (and erroneous) ‘cuckoo clock’ speech.

    Some assert Chimes at Midnight (1966), his anthological Falstaff film, is Welles’ single best work of all.

  6. Papa John says:

    Re AV Club:

    Amy, I have two questions for you. How the devil did you work out the theme? Why did you work out the theme? (Yet you kindly gave the puzzle a 3.5 rating.) The lackluster, convoluted, nonsense theme did nothing for me. Way too much effort for no payoff, I’d say.

  7. Martin from Charlottesville says:


    You mentioned seeing Orson Welles in the old wine commercials.
    Here is one of them, a 30 second spot for Paul Masson on Youtube.

  8. Lois says:

    So happy with the NYT puzzle.

Comments are closed.