Friday, 1/1/10

Happy New Year!

NYT 5:34
LAT 3:42
CS untimed
BEQ 6:56

Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword

Picture 10This 70-worder had hardly anything that was in my wheelhouse, and yet it all came together with a standard Friday-verging-on-Saturday amount of effort. It’s basically five interconnected mini-crosswords in one. Let’s meander through the grid and see what we’ve got:

  • 1A. The WITHERS is the [Part of a horse between the shoulder blades].
  • 14A. ONE-O-CAT is something I know only from crosswords. It’s a [Quaint game with a giver and a striker] but probably no seeker, which is from quidditch.
  • 19A. [Pot cover] is the TEFLON that may cover the inner surfaces, not a lid.
  • 22A. ERNO isn’t just Mr. Rubik’s name. It’s also the [Resistance leader in Woody Allen’s “Sleeper”].
  • 23A. AL RITZ, the [Eldest of a trio of comic brothers in 1930s-’40s films]? I know him only from Tyler Hinman’s recent themeless CrosSynergy “Sunday Challenge.”
  • 31A. OMSK is [Dostoyevsky’s exile city]. Russian city, 4 letters, starts with O—it’s gonna be OREL or OMSK. I chose wrong this time.
  • 34A. Is ROUGHCAST an actual word? It is indeed in the dictionary, as an adjective and noun. [Coarse, as stucco].
  • 44A. An OWL is a [Noted head-turner] in that the bird turns its head rather than its eyeballs to see things to the side.
  • 59A, 50D. [New Testament miracle recipient] clues both LAZARUS and LEPER.
  • 2D. If you’re a teenager who’s IN FOR IT, you’re [Sure to be grounded, say].
  • 4D. [Bring bad luck to] clues HOODOO, which I didn’t know was also a verb.
  • 5D. The crosswordese ECU is the [Coin featuring Louis XVI].
  • 7D. The [Play set entirely in a beauty parlor] is STEEL MAGNOLIAS. In the movie, they got out and about.
  • 11D. ZIONISM is the [Movement Herman Wouk called “a single long action of lifesaving”].
  • 20D. This answer splitting the middle section is FRIGHT WIG, a [Clown’s over-the-top topper]. Anyone else try to squeeze RAINBOW WIG into that space?
  • 38D. I started with IDOLIZE for [Put on a pedestal] but changed it to LIONIZE because I remembered learning recently that FUN (52A) was the [First Across word in the world’s first crossword].
  • 40D. ROMULUS was the [Abductor of the Sabine women]? Does Remus know about this?
  • 46D, 49D. These words remind me of one another. IMPUTE means [Ascribe] and IMBUE means [Suffuse].

Hey, where is everyone tonight? Have you all gone out to celebrate New Year’s Eve?

Andy Sawyer’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Picture 9Ring in the new year with a round of “Auld Lang Syne” and you’re on your way to filling in the theme entries here:

  • 20A. [Steamy Western attraction, today?] takes the Old Faithful geyser and gives it a Scottish inflection: AULD FAITHFUL.
  • 36A. [Airport convenience, today] is LANG-TERM PARKING. Do I hear a Scottish burr? My husband and I just blew a half hour watching 11 “Learn the Scottish Accent” lessons on YouTube.
  • 52A. “Since” turns into SYNE in SYNE YOU ASKED, or [“I wouldn’t have said this, but…,” today]. Or, if you prefer “I wouldnae have said this…”

The grid’s pretty wide open for a themed puzzle—72 words, including two 10-letter Across answers that sparkle (MOLTEN LAVA, which should really pertain to molten chocolate lava cake if you ask me, and a CLASS CLOWN. I’m also partial to the FALLBACKS that are [Alternative plans].

Updated Friday morning:

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Name Those Years”—Janie’s review

And a very gracious good morning after the night before. However you brought in the new year–in the company of many, a few, one other or solo-style–I hope you fully enjoyed it! Good-bye, then, to the first decade of the century. What did you call those years beginning in 2000 and ending yesterday? That’s the subject of today’s puzzle and Tony gives us three different answers that may conform to yours, the clue for each beginning [With “the”, past decade name, …]:

  • 17A. [… to mischief-makers?] NAUGHTIES. Love this one. I do remember some turn-of-the-millennium discussion suggesting that we’d call these first ten years the (dry) “Aughts”; the “Naughties” is way more colorful.
  • 28A. [… to Arthur C. Clarke?] TWO-THOUSANDS. This, of course, is a reference to the iconic science-fiction writer’s 1968 movie (and book) 2001: A Space Odyssey in which the date was always referred to as “two-thousand one.” Seems the screenplay, btw, co-written with (film-director) Stanley Kubrick, was written almost simultaneously with the novel. But the movie’s release preceded the book’s and Clarke felt that readers would disparage it as a “novelization” of the movie. Fascinating back-story.
  • 47A. [… to secret agents with license to kill?] DOUBLE ZEROES. Such as Bond. James Bond, a/k/a 007–double-oh seven or double-zero seven. You’re bright. You catch on.

My fave remains the first. But that may be moot, since last night celebrated the annual occasion to clean house. “Out with the old and in with the new” as we acknowledge at 64A, the:

  • [Keen-sighted person’s name for this year?] TWENTY-TEN. Visionary!

And I almost forgot. There appears to be bonus fill. This is 2010 A.D. and [The”A” in A.D.] is ANNO.

In the synchronicity (great-minds-think-alike?) department, the lead item in “The Talk of the Town” in this week’s New Yorker magazine is a piece by Rebecca Mead on this very subject of giving a name to the decade we just said good-bye to.  Worth checkin’ out.

Other NOTABLE clues and fill [Worth mentioning] include :

  • [Nattering nag of old TV] MR. ED. This evokes then-VP Spiro Agnew’s description of the media (by way of speech-writer William Safire, thank-you-very-much) as “nattering nabobs of negativism.”
  • [Dancer’s driver] SANTA. Ohhhh–that “Dancer”… (how quickly they forget!)
  • [Advertising sign] NEON. A touch of synecdoche here, where the part stands in for the whole.
  • PRIVY TO [In on] and TREE [Cherry or lemon, e.g.] because both of them sent me in the wrong direction, the former with PARTY TO; the latter with DROP…
  • SWIMSUIT [Outfit for Dana Torres]. Hurray for the shout-out to this astonishing Olympic athlete (five Olympics over 24years; first over-40 female swimmer) and mom. Wotta woman!
  • On the subject of those games, OSLO [1952 Winter Olympics site]–the Scandinavian association then leading me to SAAB [Swedish sedan]. And since we’re traveling, there’s also “QUE PASA?” [“What’s happening?” in Oaxaca], that Spanish PESETA [100 centimos], the German VIER [Twice zwei] and EGYPT [Pharaoh’s land].
  • PEDI as in [Mani-___ (salon specialty, slangily). There’s such a metro-sexual feel to this one. Love it. Humorously undercutting this, though is my fave:
  • “BEEP! BEEP!” [“Hello? The light’s green!”]. Oh, yeah? And a Happy New Year to you, too, buddy!

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “I Blacked Out Last Night”

Picture 11I looped around counterclockwise in this puzzle, and was mystified by how the rebus worked until I made my way to the upmost rebus and it hit me: The NYE (an abbreviation for “New Year’s Eve” that I don’t recall seeing much before this year…I mean, last year. Plenty of NYE drinkers may overimbibe and black out. (Ask a cab driver—he’ll tell you New Year’s Eve is the worst night to drive a taxi because of all the amateurs who go out and drink more than they’re accustomed to, which can lead to upchucking in transit.)

So the three NYE rebus squares inn the Across theme entries must be “blacked out” for the Down crossings: If you blacken the square and read it as {BLACK}, the crossings work. Like so: THE PO{NY E}XPRESS crosses JET {BLACK}. BOR{N YE}STERDAY crosses {BLACK}EN. And ANTHO{NY E}DWARDS crosses {BLACK} BOY. I love a good two-way rebus gimmick. Not so wild about the fill, but the “aha” when the theme clicked was worthwhile.

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26 Responses to Friday, 1/1/10

  1. Art Shapiro says:

    Wow … I thought that was the most difficult puzzle in many a month. Seldom do I have a grid that empty for that long. There were seemingly no gimmes for me other than RASTA, which made ONE O CAT a reasonable possibility for the cross. Forty minutes – egads!


  2. Everyone’s partying except us bloggers. This was fairly average going for me, with the NE corner the toughest: had to guess at Al Ritz/Franz/Perrine but got lucky.

  3. Crosscan says:

    I’m home. Blogging never takes a day off. This was hard. IDOLIZE here too.

  4. twangster says:

    >>Anyone else try to squeeze RAINBOW WIG into that space?<<

    No, but I had FRIZZHAIR for a while. This puzzle was way hard … got the right third OK but the middle and the left were too much for me.

  5. PhillySolver says:

    Its official in the EST…Happy New Year.
    Wilbur has replaced Nothnagel as my nemesis. Very hard fight, but about right for a Friday night even with the celebratory champagne. Insisting on ‘anorexic’ really slowed me down. I knew the wig part but had to work for the FRIGHT part. I only saw the movie, so STEEL MAGNOLIAS was elusive and AL RITZ was not known to me.

  6. Martin says:


    Remus was no longer in the picture. Romulus killed him with a shovel during a dispute about what to call the city. Presumably, had Remus prevailed, we’d be calling it “Reme.”

    After the name thing was settled, the next order of business was women.

  7. Nancy says:

    Was I out celebrating tonight? Not exactly – I was working the Fri. puzzle and the only reason I knew it was midnight was that the fireworks started in the neighborhood. It’s 12:21 and they’re still going off.

  8. Gareth says:

    One mistkae
    general/specific dupe miracle-ees
    Anyone try: INDUCTCH at 2D, THERENT at 3D

    One mistake – last letter put in ALRITT/FRANT – a Z-tile you say? >SHRUG<.

    Was not aware you could describe a person as ANGULAR, and I can't say I care for 58D as a clue either… Apart from that I found it a great puzzle, setting the bar pretty high for 2010! Especially loved: the double-clue general/specific miracle-recipients and the clue for ALIBABA.

    Any one else try: 2D INDUTCH, 3D THERENT, while trying to build off WITHERS?

    Thank-yous: Merl Reagle for FUN and Joon Pahk for MIT…

  9. Evad says:

    I just got lucky with HOODOO, ERNO and NICOL. Otherwise, a tough but satisfying progression through the rest of it.

    Happy New Year to all!

  10. Tuning Spork says:

    First you get the city. Then you get the power. Then you get the women.

    This was a butt-kicker for me. Had ADULATE then IDOLIZE then, finally, LIONIZE. Had VOODOO / WITVERS. Made sense. Wasn’t expecting a Reman… er, Roman numeral at 51-A and refused to let go of NOON for the longest time.

    Once I googled for NICOL and ERNO the northwest fell pretty quickly — except for WITVERS. Finally had to come here and find my error. It was at MOE / ROUGHCASE. I figured the [zinger] was Moe Howard. But I guess he was more of a [slapper].

    55:35. Probably my longest solving time in over a year.

  11. david H says:

    killed me. Argh. Happy New Year.

  12. bruce n. morton says:

    Easily the hardest puzzle of the year so far.

    1. Is the word “Rubenesque” or Rubensesque?

    2. Is an entire year a “time”?


  13. Rob says:

    The BEQ puzzle didn’t seem to play properly in Across Lite 2.0. It drove me bonkers until I realized that the program was only accepting the “blacked-out” spaces as the letter “N”, which lead to the comically-unhelpful fill of NEN, NBOY, and JETN. Is this a problem with Across Lite, or did I miss something painfully obvious? :)

  14. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Rob, I clicked the “escape” key to enter NYE in the rebus squares. Across Lite accepted that, but NYEEN, NYEBOY, and JETNYE were not making the theme much clearer for me.

  15. Tuning Spork says:

    It worked fine for me, Rob. I pressed “insert”, typed NYE and hit “enter”.

    UPDATE: That’s interesting, Amy. I didn’t know “escape” worked, as well.

  16. bruce n. morton says:

    Steel Magnolias anagrams to “I Meet Salon Gals.”


  17. Zulema says:

    I got stuck on NOON also. “Time”? But in the middle I had POLEMICAL instead of POLITICAL, so RETZ and MIM? That didn’t make sense for quite a while. Very difficult puzzle, despite having 1A and 8A immediately. But a good puzzle. Happy New Year, all!

  18. Matt says:

    More a Saturday-level than a Friday for me, what with misleading definitions, a multi-mini-puzzle grid, difficulty in getting a foothold, and various trivia… I had IDOLIZE/LIONIZE and SLENDER/ANGULAR creating difficulties in the SW, NOON/MMIX in the SE. Also, ROMULUS in the SE was a surprise– I’d thought that the Roman/Sabine war was historical, not legendary…

  19. Jon S. says:

    Someday, I hope to scale the precipice that is the Thursday/Friday divide. Or the Thursday/Friday-Saturday, for that matter. At least, this week. Thursday was relatively painless. Today’s puzzle left me greatly piqued. ONE-O-CAT and AL RITZ were notable.

    I’ve yet to get past the “stuck in the wrong train of answer”, as I call it, in which I desperately try to cram an answer into the allotted spaces (Time of Obama’s swearing-in), only to realize it’s the year that’s required. Is there any quibble here with time, since 2009 is a year?

  20. Gareth says:

    The internet monster seems to have eaten my post this morning, if it does reappear, sorry…

    One mistake – last letter put in ALRITT/FRANT – a Z-tile you say? >SHRUG<.

    Was not aware you could describe a person as ANGULAR, and I can't say I care for 58D as a clue either… Apart from that I found it a great puzzle, setting the bar pretty high for 2010! Especially loved: the double-clue general/specific miracle-recipients and the clue for ALIBABA.

    Any one else try: 2D INDUTCH, 3D THERENT, while trying to build off WITHERS?

    Thank-yous: Merl Reagle for FUN and Joon Pahk for MIT…

  21. Tuning Spork says:

    Well, a year is a length of time, and we use the word for even longer periods (“in the Civil War time”, “in the time of Christ”, etc).

    It doesn’t feel satisfying, though. We don’t think of the current year as a “time” the way we do a historical period.
    It’s not like when you read a certain clue assuming a word is a verb and then finally realize it’s a adjective. You get that little “ah-ha! I get it! yay!” thrill. This was more like an “ah-huh? that’s just wrong” feeling.

  22. Karen says:

    I thought it was pretty much a Friday, but if I hadn’t remembered the movie Steel Magnolias (with Dolly Parton!) I might have had a different solving experience.

    Don’t forget that Sir Arthur C. Clarke also wrote 2010, where the alien monoliths multiplied, fell into Jupiter, and set off a nuclear reaction to form a second small sun in our solar system. If that doesn’t happen I’ll count this as a successful year.

  23. Sam Donaldson says:

    Nothing like starting the new year by springing practically every trap set in the NYT. Like others, I tried NOON for the swearing-in, but I also managed OUT LATE as the “sure to be grounded,” JUPITER as the home of the Great Dark Spot (hey, red is a dark-ish color), VOODOO for hoodoo, and, early on, PUBLIC PROPERTY as the home of City Hall. As long as I’m in confessional, I even tried LDS instead of MIT.

    Loved the clue for ALI BABA, by the way. Best NYT clue of 2010! (So far.)

  24. John Haber says:

    Killer for me, too, including the temptation of SLENDER and the weirdness of “time” for a year. Can someone explain the ALI BABA clue?

  25. Sam Donaldson says:

    @John Haber: Ali Baba is famous for uttering “Open Sesame” as a password to access a cave sealed by magic.

  26. joe burke says:

    I found the NYT to be incredibly tough today. Was anyone else thinking “Defiant” for two down?

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