Sunday, 12/6/09

NYT 10:18
LAT 8:50
BG 7:32
Reagle 6:51
CS 3:06*

Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword, “Double Break Point”

pb1Theme: At the break point between two words, the first word’s final letter gets doubled and scoots over to the second word. A few examples:

  • 20A. [Deciding the best man is better, perhaps?] is CHANGING GROOMS, based on “changing rooms” + G.
  • 25A. A SPORTS SCAR (sports car + S) is a [Memento of an old athletic injury?].
  • 52A. [Double or nothing, say?] is a NEW WAGER (goofy New Ager + W).
  • 93A. [Holder of pet electrons, protons and neutrons?] is an ATOMIC CAGE (the Atomic Age + C).

There are nine theme entries in all. That long central Down answer, LIBERAL-MINDED (29D: [Tolerant of other opinions]), is not part of the theme, though it does intersect three theme answers.

Weirdest (i.e., least familiar) answer: RAHAB, or 91A: [Prostitute who protected Israelite spies, in Joshua].

Notable clues and answers in the fill:

  • 60D. ¡THREE AMIGOS! That’s the [1986 film featuring Chevy Chase as Dusty Bottoms]. “Sew! Sew like the wind!” remains my favorite line from that movie.
  • 2A. GIMLI is [“The Lord of the Rings” dwarf]. First answer in the grid when 1A (SCALED, [Like mountains and maps]) didn’t give way instantly. I spaced out when typing in SCALED and it wound up as SCARED, which totally mucked up 4D: [They’re set for drinking and smoking]. No, REGALAGES made no sense. LEGAL AGES! That’s better.
  • Other than fixing that R/L problem, the last letter I filled in was the F in 47A: [Bottom line?]/FOOTERS and 47D: [Peggy Lee’s signature song]/’FEVER.” “Never” sounded plausible, but NOOTERS was not helping one bit.
  • 45A. TWEED is a stereotypical [Professorial material?].
  • 78A. Geography meets etymology: GHANA is the [Country whose name means “warrior king”]. They made the World Cup draw, didn’t they?
  • 33D. [It might have an extension: Abbr.] clues a URL. Not a TEL., nope.
  • 45D. Maryland’s TERPS (Terrapins) are [Competitors of Wahoos and Tar Heels].
  • 46D. [It’s most useful when it’s cracked] clues a WHIP. Ouch.
  • 70D. [Becomes layered while settling] clues SEPARATES. Gross. Word to the wise: If you should find yourself ordering a McDonald’s milkshake, don’t let it melt. It’ll separate in disturbing fashion.
  • 72D. [Shaker’s sound] is “BRR” if he or she is shaking from the cold.
  • 85D. The THROAT is a [Dewlap’s place]. In cattle or birds, generally—not people.
  • 86D. SAINTS? [They’re all good].

That’s all for tonight. See you Sunday morning!

Updated Sunday morning:

Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “Fashion Plate”

mr2Merl’s theme this week is “food items that contain words that are related to clothing (items of apparel, fabrics, clothing fasteners, parts of clothing), clued with the word fashionable.” For example:

  • 46A. [Fashionable condiment?] clues CAESAR DRESSING. Dressing…not sure how this fits the theme. “Getting dressed” or “dress” as part of the word. PITA POCKETS also stretches the theme a bit.
  • 56A. [Fashionable meat?] is SKIRT STEAK. 93A has the same clue, for BEEF MEDALLIONS. So add jewelry to the apparel concept. Wait, ONION RINGS also contains jewelry. Other answers with items of clothing are BLUEBONNET and BOWTIE PASTA, though those are accessories more than clothing.
  • 70A. GINGERSNAPS are [Fashionable cookies?]. See also BUTTON MUSHROOMS.
  • 104A. [Fashionable sweet?] is COTTON CANDY. FRENCH SILK also has a fabric name.
  • 119A. [Fashionable advice to diners at a fancy restaurant?] is DON’T SCARF IT DOWN.

This theme feels too sprawlingly loose to me. FRENCH SILK needs to be followed by the word “pie” to be a food. BLUEBONNET isn’t food, it’s a brand name of margarine. The vague “things you can wear/things that are used to make things you wear/things that are used as fasteners on things you wear/a pocket” concept doesn’t have much punch.

No hitches in the fill. I did not know that 13D: ARBOGAST was the name of [The detective in “Psycho”], but the crossings were more familiar. I could see people getting snagged by the B, which crosses 23A: Victor BORGE, [Great Dane by the piano].

Weird ones: 117A: [999 follower, perhaps] is OOO (but really 000, with zeroes), if you’re looking at a three-digit dial that’s going to flip back to 000 after it reaches 999. 103D: E NOTE usually gets clued as the not-in-my-parlance “e-note,” an electronic note. Here, it’s [Part of a C major chord]. Do music people call the musical note E the “E note”?

Dan Naddor’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Subliminal Messages”

dn3The theme is fake advertising slogans in which the name of an apt company is embedded”

  • 23A. [Airline message] is SEE ISRAEL ALL OVER AGAIN. EL AL is at 74D.
  • 37A. [Electronics message] is THE REASON YOU LOVE TV. SONY is at 18D.
  • 66A. RELIABLE PICK-UP SERVICE is a [Shipping message], with UPS in the grid at 5D.
  • 98A. [Automotive message] is BUILT FOR DURABILITY. FORD’s at 89D.
  • 116A. EXPLORE A LASTING BEAUTY is the hypothetical [Cosmetics message] from L’ORÉAL (53D).
  • 104A. [The brains behind this puzzle’s theme messages] is an ADMAN. I just don’t like that word’s inherent maleness, though the New Oxford American Dictionary defines adman as “(informal) a person who works in advertising.” Anyone know any women who work in advertisting who refer to themselves as “admen”?

The cross-referencing made the puzzle a little slower to unravel, I thought. There are some tough answers (obscure ARTEL, 21D: [Soviet cooperative]) and clues (80D: [Lesser of two evils, metaphorically] for FRYING PAN, as in “out of the frying pan and into the fire”), but no real trouble zones.

Interesting way to massage the “embedded word” gimmick into a sensible theme with a purpose. The idea of “subliminal advertising” ties the company names to appropriate slogans, so there’s no randomness to the embeds. I did a little Googling afterwards to see if these were actual slogans—if ad agencies had actually persuaded corporations to go with the embedded-name approach—but the two I looked up weren’t real slogans used by those firms.

Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post “Sunday Challenge”

th4Yay! Tyler made this puzzle a couple years ago but Will Shortz wasn’t keen on 1-Across. I liked the puzzle then (the * is because my solving time was assisted by the previous go-round) so I’m glad to see it’s been published now. 1-Across had been completely unfamiliar to me, but I enjoyed learning it. [LSU cheer that includes a punny French spelling] is “GEAUX TIGERS,” playing on “go.” What’s not to love about a bilingual sports pun? Kudos to the Louisianans who came up with that one.

The grid’s chockablock with interesting fill. Such as:

  • 15A. ALL BROKEN UP, or [Emotionally crushed].
  • 17A. SPREADEAGLE, or [With arms and legs outstretched].
  • 39A. QUONDAM, or [Onetime]. Cool word, not seen often.
  • 62A. DON’T GO THERE, or [“I’m offended by that topic”].
  • 35D. AQUALUNG, or [Jethro Tull album or song].
  • 36D. BUTTER UP, or [Flatter insincerely].

Surprised to see the double A grades in EASY A’S and [An A often boosts it (abbr.)] as the clue for GPA. Never heard of AL RITZ, 3D: [Part of an old comedy trio, with his brothers Harry and Jimmy].

Gotta run now—hope to find time for the Boston Globe puzzle this afternoon.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Boston Globe crossword, “U and U Alone”

Region capture 6The theme entries—five grid-spanning 21-letter fake headlines—all contain no vowel other than U:

  • 27A. [Knuckleheads give rave reviews?] clues NUMSKULLS TURN THUMBS UP.
  • 43A. [The Donald’s losing money?] suggests TRUMP’S TRUST FUND SLUMPS.
  • 64A. FUDD HUNTS BUGS BUT BUSTS is clued [Elmer just can’t bag his quarry?]. Bugs Bunny’s last name is left out, presumably because that Y serves as a vowel.
  • 89A. [Some towns have garbage issues?] clues SUBURBS SHUN DUMP TRUCKS.
  • 103A. This one’s my favorite: CRUNCH DUNKS CRUSH SPURS almost sounds like a real headline in the sports section. For that matter, the Trump one wouldn’t be out of place in the business section, either.

I like the intersecting Simpson clues. 86A: ITO is [Simpson judge] and 78D: [Sax-honking Simpson] is LISA. 65D goes with trivia, [World found by Herschel], to clue URANUS. My kid gets a kick out of inquiring, “How big is Uranus?” When I answer that it’s surprisingly light considering that it’s larger than Neptune (but less dense), he collapses into giggles.

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7 Responses to Sunday, 12/6/09

  1. janie says:

    zanies al, jimmy and harry ritz were the not-quite-the-marx-brothers of their day. here’s a sample of their work — and here’s the 411 from imdb.


  2. Deb Amlen says:

    No puzzle commentary today, but just wanted to pop in and say I love the look of the new blog! Juicy! :)

  3. anonymous says:

    Don’t know about the other papers it appeared in, but the Washington Post’s print version of Reagle’s crossword left out the clue for 1A: [Mini-racer]. Just putting it out there in case someone stumbles across this.

  4. John Haber says:

    I don’t know about least familiar: bet more people have read the Bible than Tolkein. One I don’t understand is about Texas, bullets, and aces.

  5. Amy Reynaldo says:

    John, I think it has to do with Texas Hold ‘Em poker, with bullets being slang for aces. As for “least familiar”: Feel free to insert “to me” there. I haven’t read the Bible, and RAHAB isn’t at all common as crossword fill (zero hits in the Cruciverb database!).

  6. Erik says:

    Is the clue for 32A a misprint? “Nitpicks” doesn’t agree with “Assault.” I guess “assaults” is an adjective, and “nitpicks” is supposed to agree with “trifles.” I don’t know, I’d prefer to see “nitpick” as the clue.

  7. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Erik, at the copy of this post on the old blog, someone argued the same thing. I do see your point. “Nitpicks” is a verb but doesn’t agree with ASSAULT.

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