Thursday, July 7, 2016

CS 9:04 (Ade) 


Fireball 9:21 (Jenni) 


LAT 4:38 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:29 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


BEQ tk (Ben) 


Joel Elkins and Andrea Carla Michaels’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 7 16, no 0707

NY Times crossword solution, 7 7 16, no 0707

A rebus theme, with CHECKPOINTS in the middle of the grid and four {TSA} points where the Across and Down answers check each other. There’s THAT’S AMORE crossing SET SAIL, LIGHTSABERS and MORT SAHL, WARTS AND ALL and IT’S A BOY, and YOU DON’T SAY with TENT SALE. Each TSA square joins two words together. I like 21a, 54a, and 58a best. Four more things:

  • 38d. [Onetime Caribbean native], ARAWAK. Apparently about 62% of Puerto Ricans have some Arawak ancestry, and the 10,000 Lokono people of coastal South America (Guyana and environs) are very much in existence. If you’re not living on a Caribbean island but are on the coast of the Caribbean Sea, are you not considered to be a present-day Caribbean native? And certainly the Puerto Ricans are very much within the Caribbean.
  • I am surprised to find both IKE’S and TESSAS in the same grid. That is either one or two plural/possessive names too many! (See also: GES, plural abbreviated brand name.)
  • 24a. [Mollusks once known as lepus marinus], SEA HARES. These creatures don’t have long rabbit ears—those are rhinophores. Hey, this one looks like a cross between Shrek and old lettuce.
  • 39d. [Summer], TOTALER. I’ve never used the word TOTALER. Have you? Feels like a roll-your-own word with that -ER tacked on. (EVADER is a bit better, though it’s crying out for a prefatory tax.)

I didn’t find anything in this puzzle to be particularly challenging or especially fun. 3.5 stars from me.

Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Decisions, Decisions” — Jim’s review

Today we get two-word phrases in which the first word ends -OR. That word is then re-parsed into two and when combined with the last word, we get a choice of the form __ OR __.

WSJ - Thu, 7.7.16 - "Decisions, Decisions" by Samuel A. Donaldson

WSJ – Thu, 7.7.16 – “Decisions, Decisions” by Samuel A. Donaldson

  • 17a. [Choice of pH testing sites?] LAB OR POOL. Must’ve been tough to find some commonality between a LAB and a POOL. pH testing works as well as any, I guess.
  • 28a. [Choice of allotment methods?] METE OR SHOWER. This one feels awkward because the choices are transitive verbs, but the base phrase is too good to pass up.
  • 47a. [Choice of Progressive spokespersons, now that Hillary’s clinched?] FLO OR SANDERS. This is a serendipitous find which is why I like it best. We get a play on the word Progressive and a clever nudge toward Bernie. Nice!
  • 62a. [Choice of salon treatments?] DO OR NAILS. Why not both?

Clever repurposing of existing phrases, and I love clever repurposing of existing phrases! Plus we get LAWYER UP, AL FRESCO, HELL NO, LIBERTINE, DRUM SOLO, POWER NAP, NOVELTY, EYE ROLL, and DIMENSION with a Twilight Zone clue [Noun in the “Twilight Zone” intro]. As a kid, I had that show’s opening memorized and practiced my Rod Serling impersonation when no one was around. Yeah. I was weird. About the only thing I didn’t like in the grid is the proper name stack on the left side. There’s talent agent ARI Emanuel (brother to Rahm), American Beauty actress MENA Suvari, and ADELES Astaire and Adkins. They made seeing the bottom part of ORANGE RED hard to see.

ROZ Kelly, aka “Pinky” Tuscadero

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [“A good walk spoiled,” reportedly] is a quote from Mark Twain.
  • 25d. Would never have guessed that the [“Hot for Teacher” highlight] was a DRUM SOLO. This Van Halen hit came out in 1984 in the early days of MTV. As a young teen, well, let’s say I didn’t watch the video for the DRUM SOLO.
  • 11d. [Consummate] is an adjective, not a verb, thus giving us the answer IDEAL.
  • 63d. [Kelly of “Happy Days”] is ROZ. This is digging deep. Way deep. ROZ Kelly played Fonzie’s erstwhile girlfriend “Pinky” Tuscadero. In 1998, Kelly had a brush with the law when she shot up her neighbor’s house and car with a shotgun.
  • 59d. [Bygone pump name] is ESSO. I contend it’s not bygone, just not in America anymore.

Lots to love in this puzzle: Clever re-parsing theme and loads of fun non-theme fill!

Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeless 97” – Jenni’s writeup

I happily solved this puzzle Wednesday evening and then got distracted by various family things and forgot to write this post. Sorry for the delay! The NW stymied me because I initially parsed 1a [Black and white] the wrong way and put in CLEARCUT. That worked with CADILLAC MAN at 6d and with ART DECO at 4a but nothing else made sense, so I moved on. SCRUNCHIE at 12d was a gimme (I had long hair in the 1980s) and so was TRENT LOTT at 13d. That gave me the rest of that corner and I marched on clockwise around the puzzle.

  • Trademark Peter Gordon long clue at 16a [“One of the most revolutionary closures in history,” according to a 1959 New York Times article] = VELCRO. That sounds a little effusive for the Gray Lady.

    Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 6.39.09 AM

    FB 7/7 “Themeless 97” solution grid

  • SCRUNCHIE appropriately enough crosses another 1980s clue at 39a [“Oh no! __ Devo!” (1982 album)] The answer is ITS, which is not as interesting as the clue.
  • 26d [Doctor portrayed by Will Smith in “Concussion”] turns out to be BENNET OMALU. I got this entirely by crossings, which was a challenge since I also didn’t know the name of the director of “Ratatouille” at 59a (BRAD BIRD.) I filled in everything but the A and figured it had to be BRAD.
  • I don’t like Roman numeral answers and they are not improved by making them math problems. 60d [One-fifth of MMMV] = DCI. Ugh.
  • The rarely seen word-ending Q appears in 46d PREREQ [An intro class usually doesn’t have one] crossing the delightful but obscure word SQUIDGER [Large disc used for flicking winks in tiddlywinks.] I just love that whole phrase – “flicking winks.” Wonderful. I’m completely serious. I loved it.
  • I had forgotten that Steve Jobs was an ADOPTEE (45a.)
  • Will Smith appears again, obliquely, at 31d [Wife of Will and mother of Willow] = JADA. I hope that Jada Pinkett Smith is clued as wife and mother because of the Will Smith reference elsewhere in the puzzle. She deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments.
  • Cool new (to me anyway) term at 40a [Overwhelming excess of info from an Internet search] = DATA SMOG.

That brought me back to the NW, and I finally realized that 7d [Having no key] had to be ATONAL, which meant that my original answer for 1a was wrong. Turns out that [Black and white] is a SQUAD CAR. This give us nearly symmetrical Qs at top and bottom. 2d [Base, in Basra] is not a US Army base but rather the Arabic word for base, and is that rare Q-without-a-U word so prized by constructors. This was non a brain-busting themeless, which was fine with me. It had enough challenge to keep me interested; the only entry that made me frown was the aforementioned DCI. What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: DATA SMOG, BRAD BIRD, BENNET OMALU and SQUIDGER. And, embarrassingly enough, I did not know that PATELLA was Latin for “little shallow dish.” I will leave you with this from Devo. Happy 1980s!

Jeffrey Wechler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 160707

LA Times

I enjoy “things that are X” themes a lot. There’s a lot of wordplay involved in the different ways of interpreting X. Here X is INAJAM, and the theme entries, are all INAJAM, though in different ways: PRINTERPAPER is notorious for jamming! AUTOMOBILEs are in traffic jams, though not for me – 10 minutes to work FTW! STRAWBERRY is a popular JAM flavour; the jam in my fridge is amatungulu, aka num-num flavour, FWIW. And lastly JAZZMUSICIANs may be INAJAM when they play music. A very evocative theme all in all. Don’t make the mistake I did and try and include FREETHROW (NBA Jam?) and LEANYEARS (you’re in a jam cos you’re hard up). The revealing clue explicitly rules those out!

Other oddities:

  • OAR and ORE are cross-referenced as homonyms. The clues work for EAR/ERE too, though a REEK is not a [corner piece].
  • [Pug or Peke], BREED – the clue hints at a short form, but there is none.
  • [Gull relative], TERN and [Relative of a puffin], AUK – Charadriiformes are busting out all over the puzzle!
  • [“My Fair Lady” lyricist], LERNER. I can never get LERNER and MERCER straight!

4.5 Stars Gareth Leaving you with…
The Jam

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Tie Game” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.07.16: "Tie Game"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.07.16: “Tie Game”

Hello there, everyone! Short write-up for today. The grid, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke, is all tied up, as the final word in each of the theme entries can also come before the word “tie.”

  • COMPOUND BOW (17A: [Archer’s device with cables and pulleys])
  • PAIN IN THE NECK (27A: [Nuisance])
  • DUKE OF WINDSOR (47A: [English title created for Prince Edward in 1937])
  • APRON STRING (61A: [Control or influence, as by a parent])

Pretty hot and tempting, or PHAT, definitely made me chuckle when filling it in, especially since with “P” and “T” in place, my brain was still locking when fishing for ’90s slang (27D: [90s slang for “cool”]). Liked the long fill of HULA SKIRTS, which was an entry in which I thought “grass skirts” would be what was needed when first seeing the clue (11D: [Island grasswear]). Of course, the word “grass” was in the clue as well. Sometimes, I just don’t fire on all cylinders when solving grid! That’s what borderline insomnia will do to you!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PEP (62A: [Cheerleader’s asset]) – Arguably the greatest manager in club football (soccer) in the sport’s history, Josep “PEP” Guardiola is best known for leading FC Barcelona to three La Liga (Spain) titles (2009-2011) and two UEFA Champions League trophies 2009, 2011), ushering in a soccer-playing style of possession, short passes and quick movement called “tiki-taka” that helped to revolutionize the modern game. After a spell as manager with Bayern Munich, Pep now will be managing Manchester City FC in England.

TGIF tomorrow! Have a good rest of your Thursday!

Take care!


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21 Responses to Thursday, July 7, 2016

  1. dook says:

    Can someone explain the NYT ick/pda clue/answer?

    • pannonica says:

      “Public Display of Affection”

      It’s bizarre to me that the Times should even tacitly approve such prudishness without so much as a gentle chide.

  2. pannonica says:

    NYT: 24a [Mollusks once known as lepus marinus] SEA HARES.

    Grr. How is it that so many people, including copy editors at professional publishing outlets, ignore proper reproduction of scientific binomials? Genus name begins with a capital letter, always. Species name begins with a lower case letter, always. Type should be formatted distinctly from the surrounding text, which most of the time means that it’s italicized (but a common counterexample is a figure caption in italics, in which case the binomial is in roman). I get that the conventions of the Times’ apparently preclude use of italics, but come on, capitalize those genera!

    • pannonica says:

      Follow-up. It appears that that isn’t the scientific name, just what the Romans (and later scholarly types) called them, so my rant is less warranted. This is what I get for presuming something about animals I know little about. My revised complaint therefore is that the clue should have put the term in quotes.

      • Martin says:

        It’s not surprising that you’re unfamiliar with the weird sea hares. I collected Aplysia specimens one summer for a lab in the Florida keys so know them. They smell like plastic. But I’d have thought you’d recognize Lepus as a genus of lagomorph hares.

        • pannonica says:

          Yes, but it’s possible that the disparate organisms were at one time—back when taxonomy was wild and woolly (not to mention wet and squishy)—known by the same name. The history is rife with junior homonyms, nomina illegitima, and so forth.

  3. Martin says:

    A fun, timely, and original rebus-style puzzle in the NYT: featuring the org. everyone loves to hate: the TSA (although, in fairness, they may have saved more lives than we’ll ever know).

    And congrats on our new NYT constructor’s debut, teamed up with the ever-effervescent “ACME” :)

    But, a gentle “boo-hiss” to Amy (and I mean in that remark in fun) for the, IMO relatively so-so review rating :)

    A solid 4-Stars from me!


  4. Martin says:

    Pannonica said:

    “Grr. How is it that so many people, including copy editors at professional publishing outlets, ignore proper reproduction of scientific binomials?”

    Indeed, I’ve lost countless nights of sleep over this very issue.

    [Just teasing, Erica… cheers!]


  5. Gary R says:

    A fun WSJ today, though it took me a long time to understand the FLO part of FLOOR SANDERS. Very clever, now that I get it!

    I agree with Jim – that name stack on the west side was rough. ARI Emmanuel and MENA Suvari are not household names in my household. I certainly know ADELE, but didn’t know her last name, and it took me forever to recall the name of Fred Astaire’s sister/partner.

  6. Devilbunny says:

    ROZ Kelly? A character who was in just three episodes of a television show forty years ago? That’s digging more than “deep”.

    Referencing Marsha Warfield’s character from Night Court would be a little fairer, in my mind.

  7. Paul Coulter says:

    I’m with you on the Roman numeral math problems, Jenni. I swear, they slow me down more than anything in crossword grids.

    • ktd says:

      In the UK, DCI is an acronym for “detective chief inspector”. I learned the term from reading Hercule Poirot mysteries. Cluing DCI this way would be tough, but a lot more colorful than Roman numerals.

    • chris says:

      as a math major, i enjoy these clues, because they’re gimmes for me.

      but, that aside, they’re still more preferable than “year in pope somebody’s reign” clues, which could be any garbled mix of roman numerals and are not helpful. at least with math clues, there’s the potential to check and verify your answer is correct with crossings.

  8. janie says:

    >…39a [“Oh no! __ Devo!” (1982 album)] The answer is ITS, which is not as interesting as the clue.

    i’m always grateful when uber-familiar short fill is given new life w/ a fresh kinda clue. there’s virtually no avoiding short fill. and short, familiar fill is here to stay. so thx to the constructors and editors who keep things lively for the solver by lavishing some thought on how to keep things a bit surprising.


  9. Chris Wooding says:

    Posted LAT grid is yesterday’s…

  10. Joan says:

    Chris beat me to it. I didn’t remember that the LAT grid was yesterday’s but I knew it wasn’t today’s, although the comments were for today. What happens now? Do we never see the right one, or will there be two posted tomorrow? Shall I save my paper? Am I the only person left on the planet who still does the puzzle in the newspaper? (In ink!)

  11. Sandra Stark says:

    Where’s the write up on BEQ’s Web of Words?

Comments are closed.