Friday, 1/15/10

BEQ 6:16
NYT 4:51
LAT 3:37
CHE 3:29
CS untimed (J)/3:24 (A)
WSJ 7:34—(available at Ephraim’s Puzzle Pointers)

Joe DiPietro’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 17

My favorite word in here is OROGENY, the [Process of mountain building]. Why? I don’t know. Because it lends itself to bad jokes about “Your Orogenous Zones”?

There’s a touch of the familiar here. Just saw I’LL BITE in another puzzle, and here’s “OK, I’LL BITE,” clued with [“You’re probably going to get me, but go ahead”]. And I swear I just saw [Organ repair sites, for short] elsewhere, so of course I filled in ORS. Wait, what? It’s ERS here? What organ repair is being carried out in the emergency room? Ideally, you want to go up to surgery for that, don’t you?

Ten things:

  • 43A. BAT CLEANUP is a great answer. Straightforward enough clue—[Be fourth in an order]—provided you have some crossings.
  • 18A. ROCK OPERA is good, but the rest of the opera/classical fill was overkill: TIN EARS in the plural, Mario LANZA plus CANIO ([Singer of the Leoncavallo aria “Vesti la giubba”]), and a generic ALTO.
  • 16A. Astro-trivia: [Constellation once called the Dragon’s Wing] is URSA MINOR.
  • 30A, 31D. Geo-trivia: [Land of a Million Elephants] is LAOS, and BLACK TEA is the [Food item once used as currency in Mongolia]. I had no idea.
  • 11D. DIPS BACK sounds like it should be an insult. “Gawd, he’s such a dipsback!” The clue is [Returns, as from a high level].
  • 14D. FRAT BOY, a [Stereotypical college drinker], is another great answer.
  • 30D. I commend the NYC health commissioner who’s pushing for LESS SALT, a [Factor in a more healthful diet, perhaps]. Have you had the salad bar at Ruby Tuesday’s? Good gracious, there’s enough salt in the balsamic vinaigrette to salinize the Great LAKES.
  • 36D. Currying favor with the puzzle editor by including the lingo of his beloved pastime? Hmph. PEN-HOLD is a [Certain table tennis grip].
  • 38D. Is “ESP TEST” in the language? Sounds weird/unfamiliar/awkward to me. [Zener cards are used in it] is the clue.
  • 48D. [It can come on white, briefly] reads quite strangely, doesn’t it? White bread, enclosing a BLT.

Updated Friday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Lionhearted”—Janie’s review

The king of the jungle (lion) has planted himself squarely in the middle (at the heart) of today’s three theme phrases. And in case you hadn’t figured that out while solving, 34A spells it out: [What this puzzle’s three longest entries are all about?]. Why, they’re “all about” (and they surround) the word LEO–the fifth sign of the zodiac a/k/a “the Lion.” Here’s how His Majesty shows up:

  • 17A. PURPLE ONION [Unlike its yellow cousin, it’s best eaten raw]. Before I was onto the embedded LEOs, I thought maybe the theme was related to “royal” matters (I was thinking of Richard the Lionhearted…) and that purple was a reference to “royal purple.” Nupe…
  • 36A. JUVENILE OFFICER [One focused on minor offenses]. Or offenses committed by minors at any rate.
  • 59A. BUNDLE OF JOY [Labor package?] Great clue and fill. In other words, all’s well that ends well!

Not surprisingly with a Klahn creation, the remainder of the clues and fill are rich and twisty and fresh as ever. And the grid has lots of fill in the 6- to 9-letter range. Not surprisingly, I like that.

Some fave clues include:

  • [Baby’s favorite art movement?] for DADA. One theory of how the movement got its name is related to childhood vocabulary, so this clue is quite apt.
  • [One for the books?] for CPA. I.e., your income and spending records…
  • The punny [Egyptian ruler’s favorite game?]. The game is FARO, the ruler is … And it looks like the name of the game morphed from Pharaoh → Pharo → to Faro.
  • [High beam?] for RAFTER–and not anything headlight-related.
  • [Perfect prose] for EDIT, and note that “perfect” here is a verb and not an adjective…
  • [Nus to us] for ENS, as Nu is the Greek alphabet equivalent of our N. The fun in this one is both in the eye-rhyme of nus and us and then in saying the clue aloud, when it becomes “news to us.”
  • The “double-screen” offering with [Wilder on the screen] for GENE and [Spot on the screen] for BLIP.
  • The “three-stage” approach to the NE corner with [Stagy] for the not commonly used THEATRIC, [King of the stage] for LEAR and then [Decisive stage] for CRUX.
  • The percussive pair of [Whiz-bang] and [Bang up] for ACE and MAR; and the more musical [Basso barber] and [Bass complement] for FIGARO and TREBLE. A nice complement to that “basso” is [Verdi’s titular tenor], OTELLO. Ooh–and while I’ve mentioned one alliterative example, let me add two more goodies, [Heavy-handed hooligan] for GORILLA and [Terminal toter] for RED CAP.

Fill I’ve not yet mentioned but don’t want to let go without noting includes:

  • DUPERY [Deception].
  • ZEPPO MARX [Youngest of a zany foursome]. No. Not the Ritz Brothers this time… And Zeppo’s opposite in the grid,
  • FRENEMIES [Portmanteau for partners who are also competitors]. It’s officialfrenemy has made it into the most recent M-W Collegiate Dictionary.
  • MAGPIE [Chatterbox].
  • NINJAS [Silent assassins], who sit in high contrast to their noisy counterparts UZIS [Tools of terrorism named for their designer].
  • VISCERAL [Gut-level].
  • ANGORA [Cat, goat, or rabbit].
  • “HEY, YOU!” [“Yo!”] and the equally colloquial GO/NO-GO [Like decisions to quit or continue].

Right now, I quit. But do feel free to continue in the comments section!

Jack McInturff’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 18“HE’S GETTING AWAY!” is a [Cry during an escape, and this puzzle’s title]. In each of the other three theme entries, HE has gotten away:

  • 20A. [Air-conditioning commuter trains?] clues COOLING ONE’S ELS. (Cooling one’s heels.)
  • 32A. Mr. Potato Head loses his HE to become  MR. POTATO AD, or [Pitch from a personified spud?].
  • 41A. YOUNG AT ART (young at heart) is [Like finger-painters?].

There’s too much going going on in this puzzle. 18A: GO ON/[Continue] should’ve been clued as one word, GOON. 42D: GO IN means [Enter], and 9D: GONE BAD means [Rotten].

I’ve got a lot to do this morning, so I’ll leave it there and GO ON to the next puzzle.

John Lampkin’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Tom Swiftology”

Region capture 19John gives us a few Tom Swifties to figure out for the theme. As the “ology” title suggests, they’re all scientific in nature. Freud says something DREAMILY about the unconscious mind. Newton’s telescope mirrors are discussed REFLECTIVELY. Edison LIGHTLY remarks about his light bulb invention. Mendeleev speaks PERIODICALLY about the perdiodic table of elements. And Pavlov—my favorite one here—DOGGEDLY says, “I’m determined to finish my behavioral experiments. It’s always good to save the best theme entry for last.

Favorite clue, a trivia point: [Supposed bubonic-plague remedy] turns out to be GIN. Who knew? Not I.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Making a Case”

Region capture 20The theme centers on the MYSTERY that’s the first word of MYSTERY HUNT (this weekend’s MIT puzzling event that Brendan’s taking part in for the first time). Key elements of a mystery appear at the start of the other theme entries: find a BODY (OF WORK), use an ALIBI (IKE) to evade blame, hire a detective or DICK (YORK) to crack the case, identify the WEAPONS (VAN) that were used in the murder. Branching off from the theme, other fill looks quasi-related. The Strokes’ album “IS THIS IT?” could be the dick’s question. A book called The Morning Show Murders is in the clue for a Weatherman, so I started thinking of the Weather Underground radicals. Oh, wait, that’s lowercase weatherman: AL ROKER, who’s been on a morning show for years. I tried to make things tougher for myself.

I call foul on the clue for BAH: [Ebeneezer Scrooge epithet]. First off, it’s Ebenezer, no double-E. Second, BAH is an interjection or exclamation, but it’s not an epithet. Epithets are words or phrases used to describe a person or thing, sometimes used to malign said person or thing. “Dammit!” is not an epithet; “old dirty bastard” is. Epithets may or may not be dirty words, and dirty words may or may not be epithets. Has anyone compiled a Venn diagram to illustrate this?

MATCHBOX cars, AL ROKER, the [Going concern?] UROLOGY, and B-MOVIE are great fill, but there was also a lot of fill in the not-great category, such as APOLAR, KEY ON, ATTAR and ENOL, ASTI and the AIRE, [1942 Preakness winner] ALSAB, and REKNIT.

Gabriel Stone’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “I Have a Dream”

Region capture 21The theme pays tribute to Rev. Martin Luther KING Jr., the 17D: [“I have a dream” speaker], by finding HOPE in strange places. In five of seven phrases with an embedded HOPE, the HOPE spans two words; in ORTHOPEDIST and ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER, HOPE’s sandwiched inside a longer word.

I feel as though the WSJ crossword features a hidden-word theme more often than the other 21×21 venues do. Is it my imagination?


  • [Mike Brady, for one] is a STEPPARENT, and CAROL is [Mike Brady’s second wife]. Alas, the Marcia in [Co-star of Teri, Felicity, and Marcia]/EVA is not a Brady.
  • PLINKO is clued as [“The Price Is Right” game], and there’s really no other way to clue that, is there?

I was not a fan of the first theme entry opening the puzzle at 22A. Chess! I don’t know the chess lingo. I’m sure [Set of chess moves also called the Ruy Lopez]/SPANISH OPENING was red meat for plenty of you, but for me, it barked “Move along now. You can back into this corner when you have everything else around it filled in.” I can’t say I’ve seen the term ARCHBISHOP EMERITUS before. And I’m not familiar with PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS. Not to mention, ANCHO PEPPER grates on my ear. Ancho chilies, yes. Ancho chili peppers, sure. But ANCHO PEPPER? Do people call it that?

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25 Responses to Friday, 1/15/10

  1. Sam Donaldson says:

    The NYT is pretty smooth for a 66-worder. I usually feel like such a dipsback whenever I see an opera clue, but the crossings were very helpful today. AMA MEMBERS seemed more contrived to me than ESP TEST, but I had a funny feeling ESP TEST was going to be there….

  2. joon says:

    smooth indeed. I LIKED THAT.

  3. ktd says:

    COLGATE, a-al-ma ma-ter: Joe DiPietro, this alum thanks you for the shout-out! Go ‘Gate!

  4. LARRY says:

    Coincidentally, the LA Times puzzle has the other principal male role in Pagliacci: TONIO, which, of course, I first entered in the NYT puzzle.

  5. Gareth says:

    Great, mostly easy Friday! As noted lots of cool trivia and 2+ part answers. ESPTEST seems perfectly fine to me. BATCLEANUP was a “Help! Baseball jargon, need crossings” answer, but said crossings were easy enough. Really appreciate seeing GREENALGAE as AM(O)EBA(E/S) are the Protists that usually get all the crossword limelight, though had EUGLENA yesterday, which was also cool. Knottiest section was probably top-left, put in ORS (sneaky…) and @ 17A PINZA. And 1D around here is toothpaste nothing more or less!

  6. Crosscan says:

    Just trying to get my gravatar working. move along. nothing to read here.

  7. Jon S. says:

    I must be making progress – M – F puzzles without too much anxiety. Tommy was never my favorite Who album – I’ll take “Who’s Next”. Also, I thought NAN was mostly answered as NAAN, so was thrown by that one for a bit.

  8. david H says:

    Feeling pretty good about myself today, with a 38:00 time on a Friday. Thought, “Either these are getting easier, or I’m getting better” – but probably too early to pin a trend. My wife said that she thought “Joe-pye” weed was poisonous, not medicinal – but then we talked about curare and botox and decided it could be both. My favorite part of the puzzle is the coinage and early adoption of “dipsback” as an insult. Love it!

  9. joon says:

    it looks like the raw puzzle data for the WSJ puzzle is publicly available, albeit in its own format. i’m sure i could write a perl script to litz it, or maybe just update alex’s crossword butler to do it for me. i’ll take a look after i do the puzzle itself (no spoilers!).

  10. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Just noticed that the NYT clue for CURL BARS includes the non-word “bicep.” The muscles with “-ceps” suffixes are so named because they have X number of “heads,” or points of attachment at one end. All are singular. The biceps has two points of attachment. Triceps has three. Quadriceps has four. “Bicep” is not a word. Or rather, it is not a word in the field of anatomy, regardless of how many people use it in lieu of “biceps” to refer to one biceps muscle.

  11. Martin says:


    It’s a word. You can howl at the dictionary all day, but it probably won’t do any good. I yell at my MW11C for including “bicep” but not “orale” at least once a week but nothing seems to change.

  12. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Martin, that’s a fine justification for using BICEP in the grid as a last-ditch rescue, but why the hell leave the “s” off in the clue? Why not pander to the gazillion pedants, traditionalists, and anatomists who do the puzzle and would much rather see “biceps” there?

  13. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Great to see a puzzle by Joe di P. On the gentle side of the Friday slope, but an excellent, satisfying puzzle. Why would one complain about one entry relating to the singer of probably the best-known aria in all Italian opera–(there are a couple other possible competitors)–but accept without comment 6 or 8 entries about rappers and rock groups, from the usual suspects?

    Seeing Joe’s puzzle prompted the following thought. Does anyone know if Manny has more or less officially retired from construction work? Is he otherwise alive and well?


  14. Martin says:


    You have to ask the editor that question. I just know why the clue is not incorrect.

    But it would bother me a lot more in a medical context, cluing SCAPULA for instance, than for an exercise clue. You’ll find a lot more people using the word “bicep” in a gym than in an operating room.

  15. joon says:

    janie, you left out my favorite-sounding clue, {Water in Cannes} (“watering can”) for EAU. easy, sure, but fun.

  16. tmccormick4 says:

    I got the WSJ puzzle from Ephraim’s Crossword Puzzle Pointers page as usual, and it worked just fine without doing anything, for whatever that’s worth.

  17. John Haber says:

    My first thought on opening was of the nice grid. ROCK OPERA being a gimme, I first filled the NE even if DIPS BACK wasn’t in my idiom, even if I didn’t know CANIO, and even if I don’t call barbells CURL BARS. Still, lots of nice fill up there, with OROGENY, FRAT BOY, ONE LINE, and Disney’s honor. I’d a glitch for a while with Royales and Joe-PYE crossing three downs I didn’t know, but it fell together after a slight guess.

    I needed more time at left, especially as I’d mistakenly FINED for ticketed and kitchen-ETTE. I also had _ALGAE till the end, didn’t know the Patriot League, and hadn’t seen AMNIO before for the longer word, but all ok eventually.

    Question: You probably bookmark the puzzle, whereas I bookmark the NY Times site index, since I use that to start reading or, if I want, the puzzle. But is there a link to the puzzle from anywhere else on the NYT site? I don’t see access to it from the choices in the pages linked from the top menu, in the links at bottom, or on the briefer and lousier “site map.” (Indeed, how do people who haven’t bookmarked the puzzle by now know about it?)

  18. Evad says:

    CURL BARS and barbells are different–the “curl” versions have two bends in them for your hands and are shorter than barbells.

    Very smooth puzzle, enjoyed the idiomatic phrases. I LIKED THAT too.

  19. Entropy says:

    Being new to doing the LAT & NYT on a daily basis, after the easy puzzles on Mon.- Thur. at least there were some thought moments today.
    I completed both, more write-overs at the NYT (which I expected).
    I’ve been told I will be blown away tomorrow but I say “OK, I’ll BITE!”

  20. Entropy says:

    Amy, I still cannot figure out why my clown fish avatar doesn’t show.
    The ghost makes by head look too big!

  21. John Haber says:

    “two bends in them for your hands.” Oh, yeah, I’ve seen those. I didn’t know there was a name for them.

  22. *David* says:

    I feel like Klahn and I while not on the same wavelength have reached an understanding. This is significant progress, he used to talk and I would look at him with a lack of comprehension.

    CHE had a nice mix up of fill and a nice adverb theme..

  23. John Farmer says:

    John Haber,

    I’ve tried to post the link, but I’m getting the “Error 404 – Call Dave” message.

    So…let’s see if this works: If you go to the Wordplay blog, right below the picture of Pat Merrell you’ll find a link for “New York Times Premium Crosswords.”

    That’ll take you to a page where you can choose the daily puzzle in AL or the applet, and access other puzzles including the archive.

    Hope that helps…

  24. John Haber says:

    Ah, I didn’t know there was a wordplay blog. I was thinking there must be a link to it like to other articles in the paper from the usual menus on their Web site, but you never know. FWIW, the other “game” in the paper, the bridge column, appears listed in the arts articles about two-thirds of the time. They forget a lot.

  25. John Haber says:

    Wait, if you click on “home,” blogs and crosswords/games alike are in the left column. It’s only, illogically, once you get into any of the sections or articles that these vanish. Go figure.

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