Sunday, January 22, 2017

CS 19:57 (Ade) 


Hex/Quigley untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 5:50 (Andy) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


WaPo 14:13 (Erin) 


Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Capital Gains” – Erin’s writeup

WaPo solution, 1/22/17

This week’s theme plays with hidden capital letters in the answers, substituting pairs of initials for two-letter words:

  • 23a. [Command to consumer advocate Nader to destroy the computer systems department?] WRECK I.T. RALPH (Information Technology)
  • 25a. [“Both surgery sites work for me”?] EITHER O.R. (Operating Room)
  • 39a. [Authority from a driver’s license, say?] I.D. SAY SO (Identification or Identity Document)
  • 41a. [Proceeds after the birth of Jesus?] A.D. REVENUES (Anno Domini)
  • 58a. [Holistically trained physician that one cares for?] D.O. YOU MIND (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine)
  • 68a. [Send cybernotes to some user on ChristianMingle?] I.M. A BELIEVER (Instant Message)
  • 84a. [Simple website button to for communicating with everybody in America?] CONTACT U.S. (United States)
  • 96a. [Detective’s phone number?] DIGITS OF P.I. (Private Investigator)
  • 99a. [Prosecutorial pandas, e.g.?] D.A. BEARS [District Attorney]
  • 116a. [Carnival worker with a graduate degree?] M.A. BARKER (Master of Arts)
  • 119a. [Tiny complaint about somebody’s naturally unpleasant smell?] LITTLE B.O. PEEP (Body Odor)

This puzzle is lovely. The first key entry tricked me into thinking there was a movie theme, but I soon caught on with EITHER OR, and legit LOLed at DA BEARS and LITTLE BO PEEP.

Solving was a smooth experience except for the center left. The crossing of quarterback LEN Dawson and composer Jule STYNE almost got me. I also was stumped by BUFFALO [Addle, so to say]. Apparently it is a  synonym for “pistol-whip.” Elsewhere, I love [Lady Gaga cover?] for WIG and [Features of crime?] for FILM NOIR. 

Thanks, Chris Griffy!

If you have not seen MANOS: [The Hands of Fate (B-movie famously ridiculed by “Mystery Science Theater 3000”)], you’re missing out. The movie itself is about a couple who gets lost and finds themselves at the house of the Master, who worships a deity called Manos. The Master lives there with his wives, and his servant Torgo tends to the house. Things start to make even less sense from there. The riffing ends with a sketch about Torgo’s Pizza. Then this sketch led to an online friend sending my daughter a Torgo’s Pizza shirt shortly after her birth. Anyway, both the movie and the riffing are hilarious.

Have a great week!

Dan Schoenholz’s New York Times crossword, “Mishmash”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 22 17, “Mishmash”

Well, people, I did not enjoy this puzzle. Not the theme, not the fill, not the clues. The wordplay theme concept seems like it has potential, but the results here disappointed me. Take a familiar word or phrase that ends with a word that can take a vowel change to form a term like the titular “mishmash,” and add that “mash”-type word. Clue the resulting nonsense in some faintly plausible way:

  • 23a. [Witty British judge?], POWDERED WIG WAG. British magistrates wear powdered wigs, and a witty person is a wag, but I had to look up wigwag in the dictionary. Apparently it’s a lot like zigzag, only markedly less familiar.
  • 38a. [Three-legged race, e.g.?], JOINED-AT-THE-HIP HOP. This is decent.
  • 55a. [Nail?], FINGERTIP TOP. Rather dull.
  • 66a. [“America”?], “OF THEE I SING” SONG. That works.
  • 81a. [Grant a girl permission to dis Drake?], LET HER RIP RAP. Really thought this one was going to end in HIPHOP, having not filled in 38a at this point—and having little or no familiarity with the word riprap, which means “loose stone used to form a foundation for a breakwater or other structure.” Sure, who doesn’t use that term?
  • 98a. [Ability to score at Madison Square Garden, e.g.?], NEW YORK KNICK KNACK. This is solid.
  • 117a. [Diving disaster?], TRIPLE FLIP FLOP. I gather triple flip is a thing?

So three of the seven were okay, three were built on unfamiliar terms, and one was stolid? We do expect a better yield than that for a wordplay theme.

Elsewhere in the puzzle:

  • 19a. Baseball-like game], CRICKET. No, that wasn’t working with the crossings. So I put in ancient crosswordese ONEOCAT (known for its more common appearance via the partial entry ONEO). Also nope. Turned out to be ONEACAT. Are you kidding me?? Right below 1-Across? That sets the tone for the rest of the solve, tells the solver “This is going to be ugly.”
  • 79a. [What Cubs fans get carried away by?], EL TRAIN. Ha ha ha ha … no. If you lived in Chicago, you’d know the proper 7-letter answer for that is RED LINE. “El train” sounds like somebody who can’t speak Spanish trying to communicate in Spanish.
  • 29a. [Perform a full-body scan?], OGLE. Gross.
  • 52d. [One lifting spirits?], TOASTER. Why?? Why, when this is a perfectly good noun for a kitchen appliance, would you clue it as “person who gives a toast” with a supposedly clever question-marked clue? Do we call those people TOASTERs much? I’m thinking no.
  • 43d. [Atheist’s lack], PIETY. The Oxford dictionary folks define PIETY as “a belief or point of view that is accepted with unthinking conventional reverence,” so I guess that actually doesn’t irk me after all.
  • 60a. [Girl with a ball], DEB. Well! That clue got me making testicle jokes with Deb Amlen.

Not sure why the fill felt so rough-edged to me, given the fairly reasonable size of the theme and no inclusion of really sparkly long fill. I’d expect it to be smoother than it was. 2.25 stars from me, just not fun.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Twice Told” — pannonica’s remitment

CRooked • 1/22/17 • “Twice Told” • Cox, Rathvon • solution

Plurals + rather strained homophones.

  • 27a. [Aerial attack has a yule theme?] MISSILE TOWS MISTLETOES. (54d [Eagle’s nest] AERIE.)
  • 44a. [What lovers of silence think?] A NOISE ANNOYS.
  • 64a. [What servers bring?] ENTRÉES ON TRAYS.
  • 72a. [Baking disasters in glass dishes?] PYREX PIE WRECKS.
  • 75a. [Pairs of outfits for a pas de deux?] TWO TWOS TUTUS. …?
  • 111a. [Researchers find effervescence helpful?] FIZZ ASSISTS PHYSICISTS.


Matt McKinley’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Dropping In”—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 1.22.17, “Dropping In,” by Matt McKinley

Today’s puzzle takes phrases that start with “in,” and drops the in; hilarity ensues. Themers:

  • 23a, STILL CONFIDENCE [Knowing one makes the best moonshine?]. Instill confidence.
  • 30a, CREASE QUALITY [Pressing concern?]. Increase quality.
  • 42a, BOARD MOTOR BOAT [Vessel for the corporate lake outing?]. Inboard motor boat.
  • 64a, FORMATION CENTER [Where geese learn the ABCs of Vs?]. Information center.
  • 88a, DECENT EXPOSURE [Passable publicity?]. Indecent exposure.
  • 95a, TENSE SCRUTINY [Close examination of past and present English?]. Intense scrutiny.
  • 110a, VESTMENT ADVISER [Priest’s fashion consultant?]. Investment adviser.

This one didn’t tickle me. The second theme answer in particular wasn’t quite as phrase-y as the rest, and the resulting theme entries weren’t particularly punny. I thought the theme clues were well written, though.

Not a lot of long surrounding fill in this one, but I liked the stuff that was there: KILLER APP, CLASS RING, TEEN BEAT, and WHEEDLED. I had a really hard time filling in 21d, BECALM [Immobilize at sea, in a way], which slowed me down in the top half of the puzzle. St. Louis Bridge architect James EADS has a very useful name for crosswords, though he hasn’t shown up in a mainstream puzzle in about five years, so I didn’t remember his name. George EADS of “CSI” is the Eads I’m more familiar with, but I’m not sure how puzzleworthy either name is.

That’s all I’ve got today. Until next week!

Doug Peterson’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 01.22.17

Good afternoon, everyone! I hope you’re all doing great to end another week of crossword solving!

Before opening up the grid, I wanted to record a time of under 15 minutes – not sure why the thought initially popped into my head – and after seeing the constructor’s name, the lovely Mr. Doug Peterson, I thought I could do just that. Unfortunately, the answers in the Northwest, particularly DELIVER, weren’t coming quickly, so that cost me some time and forced me to bounce around (1A: [Liberate]). Though I didn’t live in the 1970s, I’m disappointed I didn’t come across, at any point, the AVOCADO green craze that invaded kitchen decor back then (14A: [Popular kitchen color of the ’70s]). Outside of that corner, I didn’t have too much trouble with the rest of the grid, and got a foothold when getting TEXAS PANHANDLE without the luxury of any crossings being filled in yet (41A: [Amarillo’s area]). The paralleling entry to that also allowed me to make quick work of the middle part of the grid, but I’ll save mentioning that answer for the next graph. So, for the second time this week, we have VAMPIRE BATS featured in a grid, and now I’m going to have the harrowing image of the bat that made its way into the off-campus house I lived in my junior year of college flying around in the living room (5D: [Mammals with liquid diets]). Yes, that actually happened. One of the perks of going to some of the basketball games that I go to is that, long after the game is over and I’m done with my work, I can go out onto the court and, if a basketball is lying around, can shoot a free throws. I did just that last week, and was surprised when I shot an AIRBALL at the free throw line when I was attempting to make 10 straight before I left the arena (60A: [Jumper that misses everything]). Man, am I losing my shooting touch as the years go by. That has to change, and now! Anyone care to come shoot some hoops with me soon in New York City?

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CONNECTICUT SUN (34D: [WNBA team that plays its home games inside a casino]) – The CONNECTICUT SUN, who play their home games at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., did not originate in the Nutmeg State. In 1999, the franchise was founded in Orlando as the Orlando Miracle, the sister team to the NBA’s Orlando Magic. In 2002, when the NBA sold off all of the WNBA franchises to the operators of the teams, Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos – the father-in-law of current Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos – did not want to keep the keep the team, and no other ownership group emerged as well to keep it in Orlando. The team moved to Connecticut in January 2003.

Have fun for the rest of today, everyone!

Take care!


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22 Responses to Sunday, January 22, 2017

  1. Michael says:

    It’s a -holzful Sunday. Btw, Dan’s name got misspelled.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Fixed. That’s German for a wooden Sunday (hölzern would be the direct translation, Holz meaning wood).

  2. Ethan says:

    I have to agree that LET HER RIP RAP was not up to par. First, does anyone write an H in that phrase? Isn’t it “let ‘er rip?” Second, as Amy noted, RIPRAP was way too unfamiliar. It’s been used in the Shortz era *once*, in a 1999 Sunday. Finally, I don’t even understand the relation of the clue to the pun. Is dissing Drake the same thing as dissing all of rap? Isn’t dissing a rapper usually done through… rap? My head hurts.

    • Bruce N Morton says:

      The thing I really dislike about “Let her rip” is that the meaning is wrong. In the slang expression “Let’er rip,” the pronoun is clearly neuter — let it rip. Let her rip, if pronounced clearly, is feminine.

    • Christopher Smith says:

      Also on the musical theme: not sure how a few measures of “Bungalow Bill” & the underchorus to “Birthday” qualifies as singing lead for the Beatles.

    • Papa John says:

      From what I gathered from my online search, let her rip, let ‘er rip, let it rip, let one rip and let rip are all in use. I can’t say which is the most used, however. Apparently the pronoun “her” is considered neuter in this phrase because the “her” refers to objects like cars or other mechanical devises, as well as actions (often considered rash or impulsive). Let’s not forget the bawdy version when referring to bodily functions.

      Riprap (rip rap, rip-rap) is a very familiar term for this part of the world, where mountain streams and rivers can tear into their banks with incredible force, often redirecting their course. The practice is strictly regulated and controversial, because it can upset the spawning grounds of the Pacific salmon, even as it threatens the landowners who may lose a good chunk of their property.

      I’m not as disappointed with today’s puzzle as Amy. I didn’t think the silly theme was any sillier than many that have come before. This one has a bit of cleverness to it. I’m still not sure how to take all the comments about unfamiliar terms. It sounds to me like a criticism, a demerit. The fill seemed about right for a Sunday puzzle on the easy side; nothing too arcane, no questionable clues, limited crosswordese and no controversial terms (aside from OGLE. I don’t understand why it was highlighted, since its use is so ubiquitous).

      • ArtLvr says:

        I agree with Papa John — Efforts to slow the loss of beaches are rife on the shores of lower Michigan too, as the tectonic plate on which they rest is slowly being submerged by a tectonic plate moving over it eastward. Much of the dunes and lakeshore property has been lost already.The lighthouse at Point Betsy, no longer in use except for tourist visits, may disappear in a few years.

      • Norm says:

        Papa John, I didn’t mind the puzzle, which is not to say I particularly liked it, but I did find a lot of the fill annoying. INFLOW? Not really my concept of a revenue stream. OWN IT? No. You own UP to something. I guess there’s a weird corporate speak sense in which you own something, but it was off-putting to me. ERIE PA? Ugly. SEMAINE? WTF? But the absolute worst was EL TRAIN. No, no, no, no, no. You can take the EL. You can take a TRAIN. There is no such thing as an EL TRAIN. And, yes, I’m aware that CTA pretends that there is such a thing as an “L train,” but that does not justify the abomination of EL TRAIN. :)

        • Papa John says:

          Norm, that’s a paltry list of nits for a Sunday 21×21, methinks. A closer look may have you thinking twice about it.

          INFLOW is a legit term in economics. It’s the opposite of outflow.

          Re OWN_IT; think BEQ. Urban Dictionary gives us this: “Own it — Take responsibility to what you’ve done.
          Be accountable for your actions.”

          “ERIE_PA? Ugly.” I’m not sure the inhabitants agree with that assessment and I’m not sure why you do. I don’t.

          SEMAINE is yet another foreign word found in a US puzzle. What are you gonna do? I don’t like them, either, but I don’t find this one particularly worse than any others, especially those damn French pronouns.

          I have no comment on EL_TRAIN.

  3. placematfan says:

    Cursorily scanning the blog today, I mistook the first grid for the NYT. By comparison, the real NYT was underwhelming. So… The Washington Post constructor probably earned, what, one-half? one-third? of what the New York Times constructor did, and yet the WaPo puzzle is twice, even three times, as good? Seems off.

    • Martin says:

      I don’t know if Evan is paid what he’s worth, but the WaPo puzzles are his gig. He’s the editor and he constructs them all. So the comparison doesn’t really make sense.

      I only mention it because the quality of his offerings are even more impressive when you consider it’s a one-person show.

      • Much appreciated, though it’s not really a one-person show. I do write the puzzles and the clues, but I work with test-solvers, a full-time copy editor, and sometimes assistants to the copy editor. They all help me make my puzzles better. It’s a smaller operation than the NYT, though.

        Thanks for the review, Erin!

  4. Bruce N Morton says:

    I thought the NYT was tedious and dull. I do not like either the word codger or geezer at all. Is a quiz bowl a thing?

  5. Jenni says:

    Erin – to me, “buffalo” means “confuse” or “overwhelm.” As in “I was really buffaloed by that Saturday puzzle.” “Addle” made sense to me.

    Love the cutie-pie photo!

    • Papa John says:

      Erin, your baby’s grin is contagious. Made me smile. Actually, it made me chuckle.

      • That definition makes more sense to me, Jenni. I googled “buffalo” but must have searched in a way that it didn’t give me a direct definition. I see it as “to puzzle or baffle” in more than one dictionary now.

        Thanks for the kind words, Jenni and Papa John! That baby is now almost four, but still smiles like that on occasion.

  6. Lise says:

    I remember a question from somewhere that used the word “buffalo” five times in a row, I think, and the point was to translate the sentence into English. Definitely an addlement. ;)

    About the avocado-green trend of the 1970s – my husband and I bought an avocado refrigerator in 1980 – on sale! imagine that! – and when we sold that house in 1993, the new owners *wanted* the avocado-green refrigerator. On purpose.

    Loved the Evan Birnholz! The DA BEARS answer made me laugh the most. Out loud. I didn’t love the NYT, but it was fine.

  7. Martin says:

    Late post from me! Anyway, regarding WIGWAG, even though there are probably none remaining, wigwags were all over US railroad crossings a while back.

    WIGWAGS were the old automated railroad crossing warning signals in a diamond shaped sign. The WIGWAG was like a very visible pendulum that rocked back and forth along with a bell when a train approached. The most common place to see them now is in old Warner Bros. cartoons!

    I think it was around (or just before) WWII when the now familiar “crossbuck” railroad crossing signs started to replace the wigwags and the diamond-shaped signs. Of course, the now familiar pair of flashing red lights became common too.

    I’m not 100% certain, but there may still be one or two wigwags that are left on a couple of industrial spurs. They’re likely gone now. But the curious can check Wiki for this vital piece of info!

    Wigwags can also be seen on some preserved heritage steam railroads in the US.

    So there you go, all you didn’t want to know about train lore. Your welcome :)


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