Tuesday, 12/29/09

Jonesin’ 4:03
NYT 3:21
LAT 3:20
CS untimed

I do love crosswords and I do love blogging, but boy, is it refreshing to take a few days off from the daily, uh, love/grind. Many thanks from sunny (but not quite warm enough) Florida to the entire Crossword Fiend blogging team for filling in!

Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword

tue1229I didn’t see the theme at all until I meandered over to 46-Down and discovered that there were BIRDS hidden in each of the six starred theme entries: ROLLED OVER, MISTER NICE GUY, LOW-RENT, TOW LINE, BRAVE NEW WORLD, and ANOTHER ONE. You’ll note that in each instance, the bird has been dismembered across two words. TOW LINE is dull and “ANOTHER ONE” feels a tad far-fetched to me, but the other four are terrific entries. I would quibble with the neutrality of the LOW-RENT clue, [Affordable, as an apartment]. I think of LOW-RENT as having seedy, run-down connotations, not just affordability.

I’m not sure what that ANCON is doing in the puzzle before Thursday. 31D’s clue is [Cornice support], and I don’t think I’ve encountered the word before. Dictionary tells me the plural is ancones, in case you were wondering. Probably doesn’t rhyme with cojones.

Only some 2D: [Nigerian natives] are IBOS or Igbos. There’s at least one Ibo family on my block; how about you? I know one little boy named Ivo, but nobody named IVOR, aside from [Songwriter Novello]. Our other I-answers today are IOWAN and IDIOT (no aspersions intended by including them in the same sentence).

Didja miss me?

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Best of the Decade, Part 4”

jnzimgMatt moves along to the years 2006 and 2007 for this week’s “Best of the Decade” selections. We’ve got writer JUNOT DIAZ (I’ve read one or two of his short stories in the New Yorker), musical group GNARLS (rhymes with Sir Charles) BARKLEY (I know their song “Crazy,” and nothing else), the Jay-Z song “ROC BOYS” (never even heard of it), the movie PAN’S LABYRINTH (which looked too creepy for words, with that eyeball business—couldn’t bring myself to watch it), and rocker PETE WENTZ (he had a beard? I don’t recall a beard in all those pictures of him and Ashlee Simpson, the missus).

In the non-theme fill, we’ve got lots of names and pop culture (why not clue BEET with a Schrute Farms/The Office reference?) The only name that threw me is 14A: RIMER, the [Boston-based New York Times correspondent Sara]. Favorite clue: [“What EEZ IT, man?” yeller], REN from Ren & Stimpy. I love that mangy cur.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Stella Daily & Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Boola Boola”—Janie’s review

“Bull Dog, Bull Dog, Bow-wow-wow, Eli Yale!” and we’re off enjoying a puzzle that celebrates the venerable Ivy. The puzzle’s title refers to one of the institution’s celebratory songs, whose origins are discussed in this piece (with sound clips) from Yale’s alumni magazine. (Contrary to myth, it was not written by Cole Porter…) Embedded in the four theme phrases is the name of founding-father ELI, which is also the name for a [New Haven collegian hidden in this puzzles longest entries], and here’s how it emerges:

  • 17A. CRUEL INTENTIONS [1999 film starring Sarah Michelle Gellar]. Ooh. A modern day adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. I hadn’t realized. Not that I want to run right out and see it. Tisn’t a pretty story at all. Lotta mean people. But adaptation is an art, and while this didn’t get brilliant reviews, it sounds kind of interesting and I’m curious to see just how the screenwriter went about doing it.
  • 28A. LOUNGE LIZARD [Certain cocktail lover]. A great, creepy term. Makes me think of Steve Buscemi’s Trees Lounge.
  • 43A. FUEL-INJECTED [Like most car engines]. Fills the need of the theme, but not my fave phrase. Feels more clinical than colorful.
  • 55A. MARRIAGE LICENSE [Nuptial necessity]. See? That’s just more fun.

Bonus fill (inadvertent, I’m going to guess) comes to us by way of HULAS [Luau dances], as (in another theory) “Boola Boola” was said to have been derived from a Hawaiian tune, “La Hoola Boola” (or “La Hula Boola”). Only thing is (as the Yale article points out), the Hawaiian language doesn’t use the letter “b,” not to mention that “La Hoola Boola” appears to have been composed by a team of African-American writers…

I also liked SUNNILY [With a bright manner] and FAIRER clued as [Snow White, vis-à-vis the Wicked Queen]. I especially like the context the clue gives us. TIN FOIL [It was superseded by aluminum wrap] got me thinking about the way the ice box was superseded by the refrigerator. Can you think of other examples of one (quaint) household item/appliance that was superseded by another that’s more state-of-the-art?

Some clue/fill pairs that got my attention: right from the get-go there was the performance pair of ACTS [Plays a part] and SANG [Did Donizetti]; then there was the possibly cautionary cross of MADD [Gp. that fights underage alcohol consumption] (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and DROVE [Took the wheel]; and the extolling pair, with ODES [Poems of praise] which LAUD [Give glory to] their subjects.

I’m not sure that DANDY is a [“Yankee Doodle” adjective]. Seems to me Yankee Doodle modifies dandy–and not the other way around. It reads like a noun to me, but I’m open to an explanation.

And in the synchronicity department, yesterday we had WAYNE clued as [Mike Myers character on SNL] and today we have “NOT!” clued as [“Wayne’s World” exclamation]. “Party on…”

Julian Lim’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Picture 1In case you’ve been comparing your solving times to mine, you should know that I’m really not used to my laptop keyboard so I’m running a little slower on the crossword front.

I’ve seen bowling themes before, but this one kept me wondering until I reached the TURKEY SHOOT. What’s a DOUBLE in bowling? This site explains that it’s when you bowl a strike in the 8th and 9th frames but can’t score those frames until bowling the 10th frame. News to me. The theme:

  • 20A. SPARE CHANGE is a [Panhandler’s request].
  • 27A. To STRIKE IT RICH is to [Hit the mother lode]. I like the shared gold-mining vibe in clue and answer.
  • 48A. [Certain tour bus] is a DOUBLE-DECKER.
  • 58A. [Easy job, in slang] is a TURKEY SHOOT. Kind of a gross phrase for a non-hunter.

I rather like the way the theme doesn’t bludgeon us over the head with its purpose. No extraneous LANES in the bottom with a clue that ties everything together thematically, no trumped-up clues to make the connection obvious. Just phrases that begin with bowling coups, juiced up with the addition of the DOUBLE to the three more familiar ones.

Highlights in the fill: WISH LIST, TYLENOL, an old-school NEWSMAN (let’s picture Walter Cronkite), and the villainous PENGUIN. The entry RAW EGGS is clued [They may be tossed in an Easter contest]. Who’s having raw egg–tossing contests? Danger, danger! I might’ve clued it as [Caesar dressing ingredient].

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19 Responses to Tuesday, 12/29/09

  1. Phil says:

    Mr. Collins needs to pay more attention to the business world – these days, salaries are anything but fixed costs, they’re apparantly the easiest thing to eliminate. I’m not sure what ANCON is doing in a puzzle before the 32nd of the month, much less Thursday. Other than that, a good effort.

    The other question, Yes

  2. Sam Donaldson says:

    On the NYT, I had to talk myself into writing ONES, as it sits precariously above the ANOTHER ONE in the grid. And I would have preferred the clue for FIXED COST to be in singular form (“Rent, e.g., to a business owner”) rather than the plural “salaries.” Otherwise, I liked the theme and execution.

    The “hidden word” gimmick typically requires the hidden word to span 2+ words, so something like THENCE (hiding HEN), for example, wouldn’t be acceptable. I learned this lesson the hard way in my early days of puzzle submission (ah, good old 2008).

  3. Ladel says:

    Of course we missed you, everybody misses fresh sqeezed orange juice. Check the old thermo gadget, Fl has got to be looking better, I’m writing this from NYC.

  4. Crosscan says:

    I missed you! Anyone who thinks that blogging multiple puzzles is easy should try it. Good thing I get that FIXED COST salary from Crossword Fiend Inc.

  5. tabstop says:

    Ditto on this being a delayed reaction theme in the NYT. Since I wrote BIRDS after getting NESTS without ever reading the clue, I had to scan the list afterwards for the explanation of the starred clues.

    On a side note, did someone here succeed in getting rooms for ACPT weekend? I seem to remember seeing a comment to that effect, but I can’t find it again. I was trying to get things set up, but the group code is from last year and doesn’t work. I suppose I can always call the hotel and speak to an actual person.

  6. Matt says:

    Today’s NYT seemed to have quite a few crosswordy entries– making it Tuesday-level for the test solvers, but probably greater-than-Tuesday level for… umm, y’know… normal people. I zipped through it myself, needless to say.

  7. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Tabstop, you should be able to get the group discount if you call the Marriott. Let me know if it works—I need to reserve my room, too! Rumor has it the ACPT registration page will go live in, oh, January. So soon(ish) we’ll have the online hotel booking code.

  8. Gareth says:

    Conspiracy theorists note the theme overlap between USA Today and CS today. Bound to happen really, though.

  9. bruce n. morton says:

    I continue to enjoy this site, indistinguisable from the previous incarnation, as far as I can see–except:

    Just out of idle curiosity–every time I go here, the first screen says “Error. Call Dave.” But then I click on “Home” and it loads perfectly, so it doesn’t matter. Is that some sort of computer joke? (Some particular Dave? anyone named Dave?) Does everyone get the same sequence?


  10. Evad says:

    Hi Bruce, I’m the “Dave” to call…that’s the 404 page (generic error) from WordPress. I’ve only seen it when we use the Admin panel to post new pages to the site when there’s bad html in the post. Feel free to email me offline at evadnavillus@yahoo.com to tell me the sequence of pages you follow up to that error page. Also include your browser and pc operating system in your email.

  11. Ladel says:


    I use a Dell laptop running Vista with Firefox never have had the problem you described. Good luck.

  12. Julian says:


    thanks for the write-up…just to let you know it’s Julian, not Justin :)

  13. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Sorry, Julian! I fixed ya right up.

  14. tabstop says:

    ACPT update: Was able to call up and reserve rooms. I guess Will’s negotating prowess is slipping, since the room rates went up slightly (now $185/night). Is it too early to start trolling for roommates?

  15. Zulema says:

    Janie, I am with you on Yankee Doodle Dandy. Dandy is the noun. In the NYT, why is 24D RPS. I know it was needed for the crossing, but how possible is it to measure rotational speed per second, or am I totally confused?

  16. Evad says:

    Hi Zulema, that’s likely Revolutions Per Second, RPM’s quicker cousin.

  17. Zulema says:

    Is such a measurement possible, is what I asked? I suppose a computer can do it. It was just a thought, not a profound inquiry.

  18. tabstop says:

    Is such a measurement possible, is what I asked? I suppose a computer can do it. It was just a thought, not a profound inquiry.

    It’s probably measured by math and not by counting anyway, so one unit is as good as another. (After all: it doesn’t take one minute for your tach on your car dashboard to start showing RPMs.)

  19. Evad says:

    Sorry I misunderstood your question, Zulema. I wonder if the speed of electrons around a nucleus is measured in units such as RPS, or does the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle prevent such measurements? Paging Mr. Herbach!

Comments are closed.