Sunday, May 14, 2017

Hex/Quigley untimed (pannonica) 

 


LAT 7:44 (Amy) 

 


NYT 8:23 (Amy) 

 


WaPo 15:29 (Erin) 

 


Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “It’s One Thing After Another” – Erin’s writeup

WaPo 5/14/17 solution

Another tricky theme this week. One word in each phrase is replaced by the following word in a particular series:

  • 23a. [Entrance music composed by Mendelssohn] WEDDING APRIL (WEDDING MARCH, as April is the month of the year following March)
  • 34a. [Young one] SUMMER CHICKEN (season following SPRING)
  • 52a. [Carrier with a SkyMiles rewards program] EPSILON AIRLINES (Greek letter following DELTA)
  • 65a. [Work of art that was presented to Louis XVIII in 1821] EARTH DE MILO (planet in our solar system following VENUS)
  • 70a. [Science fiction thriller of 1973] SOYLENT BLUE (color of the rainbow following GREEN)
  • 86a. [Fictional character who planned a mutiny of the Hispaniola] LONG JOHN CADMIUM (periodic table element following SILVER)
  • 100a. [Item associated with the Headless Horseman] QUEEN-O’-LANTERN (card rank following JACK)
  • 114a. [Parliament setting] UNITED PHYLUM (taxonomic rank following KINGDOM)

I caught on that something was up when several crossings for SPRING CHICKEN did not work. I plugged in SUMMER, wondering if SUMMER CHICKEN was a phrase meaning someone not quite so young, but still not old. Once I figured that APRIL fit the first themer instead of MARCH, it all clicked. The theme is doubly tricky, in that each entry requires knowledge of a different series. Thank goodness for crossings…no amount of brain-searching would have given me CADMIUM. It’s an extra layer of goodness, though, that satisfies more than it frustrates.

Did anyone else think of Smurfs after they filled in SOYLENT BLUE? A Google search for “Soylent Blue Smurfs” brought up about 300,000 hits, including this tweet from 2013.

Other things:

  • 64d. [“Some words in this puzzle have been replaced,” e.g.] HINT. Nudge nudge, wink wink.
  • 81a. [Pooch of ’90s TV] REN. I remember there was a lot of “The Ren & Stimpy Show” that I didn’t understand, but I knew there wasn’t anything like it out there. Please enjoy this commercial for everyone’s favorite toy, Log!
  • 97a. [The second of four emperors in A.D. 69] OTHO.  He was an answer to a past MGWCC, but I don’t think his name will ever stick with me. I kept trying to make OTTO fit.
  • 125a. [Phobos’s father] ARES. Really really wanted to put Mars here, as Phobos and Deimos are Mars’ moons, but their names are Greek, so their daddy goes by the Greek name for the god of war in this case.

Until next week!

Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword, “Places, Everyone!”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 14 17, “Places, Everyone!”

Ooh, a byline that promises a good time! Will Nediger’s weekly blog crosswords are my favorite new (he started about 6 months ago) indie puzzle venue. We’ve got 18 circled words in the grid, intersecting in pairs in sort of a Brady Bunch layout. Each theme clue suggests an answer that combines a positional word with the circled answer.

  • 22a. [Dropped out], “left SCHOOL” because the word SCHOOL is on the left side of the grid (it’s also near the top, but it’s an Across answer and the Acrosses run from left to middle to right) / 23a. [U.S. heartland], middle AMERICA / 24a. [Dexterous one], right-HANDER (a tad awkward, maybe—HANDED would be smoother).
  • 66a. [Abandoned], left BEHIND / 67a. [Person pretty far up the corporate ladder], middle MANAGER (well, not that far up the ladder, right?) / 69a. [Having correct opinions], right-MINDED.
  • 113a. [Blind side protector, usually, in an offensive line], left TACKLE / 114a. [Chaucer’s tongue], Middle ENGLISH / 116a. Brings up a menu with a PC mouse], right CLICKS.
  • Moving to the Downs, we have top, middle, and bottom phrases. 4d. [News highlights], top STORIES / 56d. [Neglected one, stereotypically], middle CHILD / 87d. [Where teams that have little-to-no chance of winning are found], bottom BRACKET (not familiar with “bottom bracket” myself).
  • 10d. [Boneless cut], top SIRLOIN / 58d. [Bourgeoisie], middle CLASS / 89d. [Inhabitant of the ocean’s benthic zone], bottom DWELLER.
  • 15d. [Grand pooh-bahs], top BANANAS ( a little odd in the plural) / 60d. [Mezzo-soprano, for female voices], middle RANGE / 91d. [Profiting from the misfortunes of others], bottom-FEEDING.

Good theme concept, smoothly executed.

… And now I was away for the last hour, and I don’t remember much about the interstitial material in the puzzle. Let’s see:

  • 107a. [Poison victim’s remedy], IPECAC. Is it still advised, or no?
  • 90a. [Searcher for “the lost village,” in film], SMURF. “In film,” ha. I’m Smurfless, having been just a little too old to take any interest when the kiddie cartoons hit in the U.S. Everything I know about the Smurfs, I know from crosswords or Sporcle.com quizzes.
  • 77d. [Fox neighbor], SAUK. Tribes, not TV channels.

There’s not a ton of sparkle in the non-theme fill, but the theme layout doesn’t really leave space for much. The fill wasn’t annoying, though, which is often challenging to achieve in a 21×21 grid. 4.25 stars from me.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Kicking the Habit” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 5/14/17 • “Kicking the Habit” • Cox, Rathvon • bg • solution

This was a very quick solve. Saw it was a quote theme, but as of this moment I only know pieces of it. Didn’t know the title of the puzzle until I needed to type it for the write-up.

  • 23a/41a/64a/85a/109a [… a five-part quip] I KNOW A GUY | SO ADDICTED TO | LINE DANCING THAT | HE HAD TO ENTER | A TWO-STEP PROGRAM.

Haw, haw. Good title, though. Does line dancing have kick steps? That would be good. I’m going on the assumption that it does.

Not part of the theme, one hopes: 76a [Misstep] SLIP. Though it is a minor duplication. Meta!

Favorite clues: 16d [Keep a sub going] RENEW

Least favorite clues: 6d [Hamster home] CAGE.

31d [Mole kin] SHREW (same Order, different Families); 81d [Po land] ITALY. I like the implied moleskin and Poland.

67d [Quaint old way to pay] CASH. Oh jeez don’t say that.

12d [Unpoetic] PROSY; had PROSE first, like any reasonable person. 71a [Dyne/maxwell equivalent] OERSTED; uh, økay.

I’m still not right.

Bruce Haight’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “For Mom”—Amy’s write-up

LA Times crossword solution, 5 14 17 “For Mom”

Simple theme featuring phrases with M.O.M. initials. All but one has either OF or ONE’S in the middle, and I’m never a fan of those ONE’S phrases (“___ your ___” is more natural and has less of a dictionary-definition vibe). We’ve got MAN OF MEANS, MUSE OF MUSIC (that feels awkward), MILK OF MAGNESIA (“Happy Mother’s Day! How’s your indigestion?”), MAKE ONE’S MOVE, MEET ONE’S MATCH, MIND OVER MATTER, MADE OF MONEY, and MONTH OF MAY (which feels clunky without a preceding “the”).

Fave fill: KICKSTART, GYM BAG, TEAM SPORT, EYE SHADOWS. Not keen on “OH, IS THAT SO?” because the OH feels weird there (and it’s near 20a OH NO not clued as Apolo Anton Ohno), and it crosses the clunky I’M HIP, which needs to die a cruciverbal death and exit from constructors’ word lists.

The fill felt rather stodgy overall, with stuff like SNERD ANYA OGLER MERC INURE ESSO.

2.9 stars from me, I’m off to do a little work before taking a Mother’s Day nature walk with my guys—enjoy your day!

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40 Responses to Sunday, May 14, 2017

  1. jim hale says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle. The theme was easy to spot and made it a pleasurable solve.

  2. Paul Coulter says:

    Excellent day for Sunday puzzles. The NYT and WaPo are both terrific, with innovative and superbly executed themes, while the LAT has a nice tribute to MOM.

  3. Les Ismore says:

    Sunday puzzles are a different beast. One I wish they would trap and release into the wilderness.

  4. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT was enjoyable. Was a little thrown by the first couple of “lefts” because they were verbal usages. May be tougher for non-sports fans (bottom BRACKET refers to NCAA basketball & similar tournaments). Most important is the reappearance of ICE, which we all know Amy loves.

  5. JohnH says:

    I liked the theme, especially how it had to dawn on me not all at once, given that some entries were halfway plausible without the added “top,” “middle,” or “bottom.” The fill not at all so much.

    I was sure forever that I had something wrong somewhere, given RIGHT -HANDER, and the left got me into a real mess facing PUPATE, DEETS, SAUK, ODAY, DOES IT, etc. (Does anyone say “Does it?” in that sense?) Pretty ugly to me.

  6. David and Heather says:

    The NYT puzzle was fun (the best Sunday puzzle in over a month); once we’d figured out the theme, the other 15 or 16 themers were really easy, but the puzzle had some great clues and some fun answers.

    Over on Rex’s blog, someone pointed out that SAUK could have easily been avoided: Sheik Yerbouti said…
    Why couldn’t SAUK have just been SHOE with HTEST, BOSS, SPARE??

    So, yeah, that was truly awful and points out Will’s shortzcomings, but otherwise the puzzle was terrific.

    • placematfan says:

      I’m usually not big on the idea of a solver/blogger reconstructing a part of a grid: Is it not akin in some ways to a person asking a painter why she didn’t use more purple in the bottom left corner, or telling a songwriter that his bridge lyrics should maybe go THIS way? The bounds of good criticism permit noting absences or lamenting excesses and, of course, pointing out flaws; but I think critics step over the line when they start to redo the art.

      But the SHOE… suggestion seems just so really legit and viable. Curiously so.

      • Martin says:

        I guess “Sauk” is obscure if you don’t know it. What’s wrong with learning things when solving crosswords? Some consider it a benefit.

        FWIW, Sinclair Lewis was born in Sauk Centre, Minnesota and a number of Maleska and Farrar clues required you know that. For example, from 2/20/49: “Sauk Centre’s famous redhead” (LEWIS). Can you imagine a Farrar or Maleska response to complaints of obscurity? I’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall while he or she composed it.

        • Papa John says:

          SAUK is no more obscure to me than Erie, Miami, Fox, Cree, Ute or Oto. Black Hawk, of Black Hawk War fame, was a SAUK. Time to broaden your horizons, people.

          • e.a. says:

            this comment is so spot-on, i almost forgot you were on here not 24 hours earlier talking about some “Why am I expected to know this gay argot”

          • Papa John says:

            I’m expected to know Sauk and the Black Hawk War because they’re in at least one of the US history books I was assigned in public school. I never ran across any gay slang in any text during my school years.

            What I didn’t say in my posts was I thought the puzzle with the DL included in the clue should be changed nor did I mention the obscurity of the clue/fill. (I still don’t concur with Amy that her meaning of DL, as used in the clue, is correct.) I allowed my horizon to be broadened through conversation on this blog, although I can’t say when I’ll ever use that new knowledge, except on these pages.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            So, people’s real lives today are less relevant than what was in textbooks 50 years ago? You should know that your dismissiveness about “gay argot” came across as hurtful to some people.

            Lots of solvers had never heard of SAUK. I was surprised it was a big trouble spot for so many solvers, but *it was*. Your individual experience is not the universal one.

        • Andrew says:

          Yay Sauk Centre! I’m a huge Lewis fan so I’ve of course been many times, though I was sad to learn the Sinclair Lewis Interpretive Center shut down last year. SC also references Lewis with the Gopher Prairie Motel and the Main Street Theater also in town. Funny thing is Lewis didn’t really love Sauk Centre (as anyone who has read “Main Street” can attest) but the town nevertheless smartly embraced him as their favorite son.

          I’m surrounded by SAUKs here in central Minnesota. The Sauk River meanders its way around the tri-county area, and it lends its name to Sauk Centre and St. Cloud suburb Sauk Rapids. Sauk Rapids is the county seat of Benton County, neighboring county of Stearns County (whose seat is St. Cloud). Interestingly, Sauk Rapids was emerging as the central MN population hub that St. Cloud eventually became, but that all ended when a tornado leveled the city in the 1880s. SR has recovered nicely though, and continues to improve. Last night I had dinner in Sauk Rapids.

          This is all to say: SAUK it to me!

    • e.a. says:

      what makes SAUK so objectively worth avoiding that you would point to its use as evidence of a shortcoming?

      • placematfan says:

        1) As Rex pointed out, A-TESTS could conceivably be N- or H-TESTS. 2) SAUK is arguably esoteric. (Though, noting the length of the Wikipedia page and the number of Google hits, this argument seems flimsy.) 3) The crossing of A-TESTS and SAUK, considering #1 and #2.

      • Jenni Levy says:

        SAUK is obscure and ATESTS could as easily be NTESTS or HTESTS. I did it on paper and I think my final grid has SHUKS because I had no idea what they were looking for. I know that the Fox are a Native American tribe but I haven’t heard (or don’t remember) the Sauk nation. I agree it’s an icky answer.

      • Jenni Levy says:

        SAUK is obscure and ATESTS could as easily be NTESTS or HTESTS. I did it on paper and I think my final grid has SHUKS because I had no idea what they were looking for. I know that the Fox are a Native American tribe but I haven’t heard (or don’t remember) the Sauk nation. I agree it’s an icky answer.

        • e.a. says:

          i get that the crossing is unideal; i’m curious as to what types of answers you might, upon missing, chalk up to a personal blind spot, rather than inherent ickiness. basically, what are your parameters for “obscure,” or how did you arrive at that ruling for this particular word?

          • placematfan says:

            The main gripe–I think it very legitimate–is that an answer that COULD be considered obscure crosses another answer for which, at that crossing, there are 3 viable letters. So if the former answer IS obscure for a solver, they may be left unable to choose which letter for the latter–which makes for an unenjoyable solve and bad craftsmanship on the part of the constructor/editor.

          • e.a. says:

            is AMECHE crossing IPECAC bad craftsmanship?

          • placematfan says:

            No. AMECHE isn’t as obscure as SAUK. And IPECAC doesn’t become a similar answer by changing the E the way that A-TESTS does by changing the A. If the A existed in a word that was definitively not obscure, the craftsmanship would have been better.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Well, my son’s never heard of AMECHE or SAUK.

        • placematfan says:

          So maybe he’d be a solver who struggled with SAUK vs. SHUK vs. SNUK. And he’d probably get AMECHE because the crosses are reasonable.

          • Jenni Levy says:

            I shouldn’t have said it’s an icky answer. I should have said it was an icky crossing, because there are two other plausible options for ATESTS. I wouldn’t have thought twice about it if not for that; I usually welcome having my horizons broadened. You’re right, e a; my personal blind spots don’t make answers “icky.” Mea culpa.

          • e.a. says:

            💖💖💖

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Hang on, AMECHE’s crossings are all reasonable? I know DEETS but I would expect it to be unfamiliar to an awful lot of people, and I’m guessing IPECAC’s spelling isn’t universally known.

  7. Norm says:

    WaPo was more entertaining than NYT, but VOID & AOL crossing ALISON and ALBERT crossing OSMENT and all the other names were a royal pain in the ass. If I’d only memorized the periodic table, LONG JOHN CADMIUM would have come a lot quicker.

  8. Papa John says:

    When I opened the NYT, I murmured to myself, “Oh, no…” Clusters of circles in an Across Lite grid make it difficult for me to read the fills. Fortunately, I quickly realized the theme and worked all the circled boxes before going back and working the interstices. (I like that word, Amy.) That made it easier on my eyes . (I think the circles interrupt the Gestalt of the crossing words and make me pause that nanosecond longer to see it in my mind’s eye.)

    I flinched at some of the theme answers and was disappointed with the Monday-level clues for the fill. I would have liked a bit more challenge. The empty grid — with its grid within a grid — was the only sparkle to this offering. I thought of quitting the puzzle midway but, habit, I suppose, compelled me to finish.

  9. roger says:

    The little-to-n0 chance to win teams are the “bottom seeds” in the four quarters of the NCAA bracket.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I’m familiar with top seeds and 16-seeds and whatnot. “Bottom bracket” was what was unfamiliar.

    • David Glasser says:

      The bottom bracket is also an important piece of a bicycle!

  10. Jenni Levy says:

    To answer your question: ipecac is no longer recommended. Turns out vomiting doesn’t improve outcomes in accidental poisoning. http://www.poison.org/articles/ipecac

  11. Bruce N Morton says:

    NYT: I was delighted to see the appearance of the great Russian (Soviet at the time) filmmaker, Andrei Tarkovsky. His film *Stalker* is remarkable. Whether it is a great film or not, I’m not sure, though it may be. It involves a pilgrimage to a mysterious, and ominous “zone,” apparently very dangerous. I saw it in Moscow with a Russian woman friend. I wasn’t able to follow all the dialogue and I didn’t want to be constantly asking her for translations, but we exchanged notes. The film was released a few years before the Chernobyl disaster, which many people, myself included, found eerie when they revisited the film, though the danger didn’t seem to involve radiation.There are ambiguous suggestions that the zone itself is a sentient entity — a science fiction theme which comes up in Star Trek, e.g. I wonder if Misha (Sestroresk) is familiar with it. Does anyone here know it?

    • pannonica says:

      Yes, and it’s amazing. The mixed film stock provides another layer of interest. To me it’s much more impressive than what is probably his most famous film, Solaris. I have yet to see Ivan’s Childhood, Andrei Rublev, or Mirror, which some say is his best. Not sure offhand of his other feature films, if he has any.

      • Bruce N Morton says:

        I also prefer Stalker to Solaris, though Solaris is also very interesting.

  12. wobbith says:

    WaPo: Couldn’t finish the SW corner, came here to see what I had wrong. Ah. The character in the play “The Odd Couple” is Felix UngAr. Likewise the film. Evidently the the TV series changed it to UngEr. Did not know that.

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