Wednesday, June 10, 2015

NYT 4:27 (Amy) 
LAT 3:49 (Gareth) 
CS 7:52 (Ade) 

Whoops! Missed seeing that the AV Club puzzle has a meta and is a contest puzzle. Watch for the write-up on Sunday night or Monday morning. Just so you know, there were eight ratings posted for the puzzle before I took the post down: four 5-star ratings and four 4.5-star ratings.

Tracy Gray’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 10 15, no 0610

NY Times crossword solution, 6 10 15, no 0610

I like this theme, though the circular triple-checking of that many squares inevitably leads to compromises in the fill. Four phrases with a rotational angle put the word that’s subject to said rotation into a circle of circled squares that dangles from the rest of the entry:

  • 17a. [Ride on which to try for a brass ring], MERRY-GO-ROUND, with the MERRY closing its own loop before the GO-ROUND part. Now, this one might be a little bogus, because there isn’t a thing called a merry that goes around; there’s a thing that goes around, and it’s rather merry.
  • 29a. [Textile machinery of old], SPINNING WHEELS. One thing that accounts for my Thursdayish solving time is that I was fixated on spinning JENNY(S), and that just wasn’t working out.
  • 48a. [Once-popular TV serial set in Oakdale, Ill.], AS THE WORLD TURNS. What a terrible clue. Just call it a soap opera, not a “TV serial”! Needlessly difficult.
  • 64a. [“Gimme Shelter” band], ROLLING STONES.

The symmetrical theme entries drop their circled words in nonsymmetrical spots, but spaced out. Makes sense. There were so many Scowl-o-Meter triggers in the grid, though. NO EAR crossing ROES; OSS and OHS and AFTS; EWER, RIA, and ATTAR; TO A TEE and OSTEAL; IRENEE ([The “I” in E. I. du Pont] … eyes goggle) and OCH. More than maybe three such answers in a grid and it’s going to stand out.

On the plus side, POWER NAP is absolutely terrific, TEA TOWELS is quaintly nice, BLOW-UPS are dramatic, the YELLOW SEA is solid, and I liked seeing 37a. MAISIE [Williams of “Game of Thrones”] (she plays Arya Stark).

Two more things:

  • 39d. [Like some rye], SEEDLESS. It’s summertime! A watermelon clue would have been nice here, or grapes.
  • 18d. [Bipedal Aussies, informally], ROOS. Did you see that picture of a kangaroo holding a metal bucket it had crushed? That ROO has clearly been working out. Great muscle definition. I am now officially terrified of kangaroos.

Four stars for the theme, 2.5 for the fill.

Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Breaking Story”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.10.15: "Breaking Story"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.10.15: “Breaking Story”

Good morning, everyone! It’s story time today, as we break down today’s crossword that was constructed for us by Mr. Doug Peterson. Each of the four theme answers are multiple-word entries in which the letters “STORY” are separated, with the point of separation different with each passing theme answer.

  • STORAGE FACILITY (17A: [Warehouse, e.g.])
  • STOCK SCENERY (28A: [Standard set pieces used in various performances])
  • STRING THEORY (48A: [Hard-to-understand physics concept])
  • SLEEP LABORATORY (63A: [Research site with many bedsl])

As mentioned before, it was good to see the separation point of “STORY” differ each time to really make the theme stand out. Oh, and the puzzle was good because I can reminisce of the days when I wore HIGH TOP sneakers regularly (5D: [Type of athletic shoe]). The 1980s were all about wearing high tops like Run DMC (without the shoelaces) and your favorite basketball players of the day. High tops faded in popularity over the years, partially because they were a hassle to put on and partially because low cut sneakers became the norm. But they’re making a comeback, and in the past few weeks, I’ve been seeing kids wearing the Patrick Ewing high tops that were launched in the late 80s that are now making a comeback. There’s definitely a chance that you’ll catch a B-GIRL wearing something like this, if they make these shoes in her size (45D: [Female hip-hop dancer])


I’m now so used to typing in señora, sra., srta., or niña in referring to a lady from a Spanish-speaking country that CHICA came to me much later than it should have (19D: [Young lady, in Yucatán]). Just finished watching DR. NO about a couple of weeks ago, so that bit of information about the character was fresh in my mind (22A: [Bond villain with the first name Julius]). Don’t think there was much with this grid that you would get FUSSY over (1D: [Not easy to please]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SMYTH (55D: [Rock singer Patty]) – Which player has scored more power play goals than any other in the storied history of the Edmonton Oilers? Wayne Gretzky? Mark Messier? Jari Kurri? Each of those three Hall of Fame players, as great as they were, would be wrong answers. The correct answer is recently retired NHL player Ryan SMYTH, who scored 126 power play goals in his career as an Oiler, tying for first on that list with another Hall of Famer, Glenn Anderson. Smith retired after the 2014 season with 386 career goals and 842 career points, scoring 618 of those points as a member of the Oilers. Smyth is the sixth all-time leading scorer in Oilers history, and the five ahead of him are all in the Hockey Hall of Fame: Gretzky, Kurri, Messier, Anderson and defenseman Paul Coffey.

Thank you so much for your time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


Jeff Stillman’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 150610

LA Times

Today’s theme is pretty simple: WINGSPANS means that WING encircles the four other long across answers. There are only 3 ways to split WING: W/ING, WI/NG and WIN/G, so one gets used twice. No biggie. Theme entries were a little bland. WINTEREGG was the most obscure by a large margin, but also possibly the most interesting. It was readily inferrable too, however. Themers are:

  • [*Health and prosperity], WELLBEING
  • [*It might require treatment with an EpiPen], WASPSTING. Puppy / dog with mysterious swollen face (most amusing when it’s a shar pei!) is a common presenting complaint for dogs around here. Very difficult to ask what stung them, but wasps would be one of the more likely choices. Dogs stick their faces in everything!
  • [*Dramatic way to go out], WITHABANG
  • [*Fabergé item auctioned for $9.6 million in 2002], WINTEREGG

1913winter1It’s a pretty well-balanced grid, with four double-stacked sevens. There’s a lower than usual count of multi-word phrases, so we have to settle for some colourful one-word entries: PLATEAU, VERTIGO and WASABI offset by drier stuff like EERIER, ALIENEE and the when-did-it-become-a-verb TINSELS. [Serious depression], CRATER is a simple, but elegant clue. [Dutch South African], BOER on the other hand, is a bit over-simplified. Most BOERs/AFRIKANERs are of Dutch/French/German/Scottish ancestry with a less-acknowledged dollop of Malay and Khoisan…

2.75 Stars

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19 Responses to Wednesday, June 10, 2015

  1. steveo says:

    Good day to be from Delaware (home of the du Pont empire). I even went to a high school named for another du Pont with the same middle name as E.I.

    Is LGA an initialism? I never knew/thought of that before. I thought it was just LaGuardiA. But I guess it could be La Guardia Airport. Hm. Hard to look this up. Airport codes, in general, don’t necessarily mean anything, right? O’Hare is ORD. I don’t think that stands for anything.

  2. steveo says:

    Okay, so
    says that ORD is an abbreviation for the previous name for the airport, ORchard fielD. It’s not initials, anyway.

    I haven’t found any evidence that LGA are “airport inits.”

    (I’m done now.)

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I reckon you are right. JFK airport has an airport code that is also a set of initials, but LGA? No.

      • steveo says:

        Exactly — I even wrote in JFK at first, because I figured this was te case.

        Maybe the Times will print another correction :)

  3. Lou says:

    LaGuardia has had many names and the land it sits on was once an amusement park. Its current name comes from Fiorello La GuardiA, former mayor of New York who championed its construction.

  4. huda says:

    NYT: Ended up with an error at the intersection of IRENEE AND LENA, which I had as IRaNEE and LaNA… Natick City…

    I too really liked the concept, but the first answer I got was WHEEL and it set up expectations. Other than MERRY not turning, I felt STONE was a stretch. We turn the stone (as no stone unturned) and there is the concept of a rolling stone, but it’s set up as an exception– an unusual characteristic of stones, that typically stay put. That’s different from WHEEL and WORLD where the turning is an essential characteristic… So, then maybe the interpretation should be that these are expressions about turning things with that component in a circle, but then I see Amy’s point about MERRY.
    Still, points for originality and many excellent expressions.

    And Amy that ROO is really intimidating… I kept thinking they had faked the images…

  5. David L says:

    I liked the gimmick, and it helped me fill in some of the short stuff. But as you say, it led to some dubious entrees. TOATEE, honestly, is just ridiculous. The person to whom a TOAT is given. ROTOUT doesn’t strike me as a natural phrase — a tree stump just ROTs, doesn’t it? Where would it ROTOUT to? The door sills on my old VW when I lived in Illinois — now those rotted out big time after several winters.

    There was an old-school vibe to this, with EWER and NEHRU and STALAG and YARROW and ANTILOG. Do calculators really have an antilog function? Do the Young People of Today even know what an antilog is?

    Also, I don’t know that I have ever encountered a SORT command on a word processor. If there is one in Word it is well hidden.

    • Gary R says:

      Agree that ROT OUT doesn’t sound quite right for a stump – fits your door sill much better – but not that hard to get.

      Many calculators have an antilog function, but it’s likely not labeled that way – more likely 10^x or e^x.

      MSWord definitely has a SORT function, and has for quite a while – it’s actually pretty handy. In Word 2010, it’s in the “Paragraph” menu on the “Home” tab. It’s represented as an “A” on top of a “Z” with a down arrow to the right of the letters.

      • David L says:

        Well, I stand corrected on the SORT function — that icon is one of many whose meaning I have never thought to figure out.

        Is the exponential function an antilog function if it’s not labeled ‘antilog’? I’ll leave that for the philosophers to worry over.

  6. Tom says:

    The AVCX is a contest puzzle! You may have missed something. :)

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Are we supposed to read all of the sentences in emails? I did not realize that.

      You commented, Ben emailed, and Erik sent a Twitter message to point that out. Nobody notified me via Facebook Messenger, Gchat, text message, or home phone, though. Or tapped out a message on my window using Morse code.

  7. JFC says:

    I haven’t been here for awhile to see how my fellow Chicagoan is doing. I’m glad to see her Blog is still alive and (hopefully) well.

    As for those airport codes I can never remember that MHT is for MancHesTer, NH, where I fly to visit the family in southern Maine. Anyone who has flown into NYC as often as I have knows that LGA is in Queens.

    Here is an interesting article on where those codes come from:

  8. Avg Solvr says:

    If memory serves, the NYT theme, or something very similar, was done somewhat recently in a Thursday offering.

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