Wednesday, 1/20/10

Onion 4:57
BEQ 3:51
LAT 3:48 (but I was falling asleep)
NYT 3:35
CS untimed
We had a family party tonight to celebrate my mom’s recent retirement, and my aunts, my cousins, my sister, and I compiled a list of 100 things my mom should do in these golden years of leisure time. I included “start a blog”—and my aunt rebutted “don’t start a blog.” It is her firmly held opinion that anyone who writes or reads a blog is wasting their time. Wasting it! (I’m not sure she’s ever actually read a blog. It’s possible she thinks they’re much the same thing as, say MTV’s Jersey Shore.

Trip Payne’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 5Let me not waste too much of your time! It is wasteful to waste! Plus, it’s late.

Took me a while to understand what’s going on with the theme. The middle answer, ONWARD AND UPWARD, is pronounced more or less like “on” word and “up” word, and each of the theme entries contains two words, the first an “on” word with a hidden ON in it, and the second an UP word. SUCTION CUP, for example, and CONTROL GROUPS. MONEY SUPPLIES and a bowl of WONTON SOUP. We’ll cut Trip some slack about that extra ON in the soup.

Three favorite clues:

  • 5A. [Phrenologists read them]/BUMPS on the skull.
  • 30A. [Word unlikely to end a sentence] is THE. What the…?
  • 9D. [Perform a wedeln, e.g.] for SKI. Can’t say I know what the term means, but this reminds me that a friend of mine was asked to officiate at her ex-student’s wedding on a mountain near Berkeley this fall, and how pleased she is. (She’s got one of those online ordinations.)

DSCN1136Liveliest fill: JOCKSTRAP! Don’t see that in the puzzle every day. Passes the breakfast test as long as it’s freshly laundered, no? I once saw a really fancy fur jock on display in Park City, Utah. I really don’t know what practical application that has. (The clue is [Guy’s means of support].)

For some reason, I like the juxtaposition of IDAHO and EIDER. Can we portmanteau that into EIDERHO?

Updated Wednesday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “It’s Showtime!”—Janie’s review

Hooray–today I got the theme before completing the puzzle! Then again, as a card-carrying member of Actors’ Equity, it’d be pretty lame if I hadn’t… Patrick’s puzzle deals with triple-threat performers. They appear in every generation and are revered for their ability to wow us for the way they dance and sing and act. Think of Mary Martin, Fred Astaire, Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Chita Rivera, etc., etc., etc. And just look at the lovely and evocative phrases each of these abilities is featured in:

  • 18A. DANCE AROUND [Evade, as a question]. Or “skirt, as an issue.”
  • 37A. SING ONE’S PRAISES [Extol a person’s virtues]. I also like the concept of the “unsung hero”–especially when s/he’s recognized.
  • 58A. ACT ON A HUNCH [Behave intuitively]. And maybe learn to think like Sherlock Holmes.

This GENIAL [Friendly] puzzle gets a bit of oomph from fill like AQUARIUS [Pisces preceder] and EXACTA [Two-horse wager] and PIQUE [Feeling of wounded pride]. Astrologically speaking, January 20th marks the cusp of Capricorn and Aquarius, whose first official day is tomorrow. As for that “two-horse wager,” Wiki tells us this means “the bettor must pick the two horses that finish first and second, in the exact order.” And pique is a word we usually see as a verb. Nice having its noun form with us today.

We get a “salty” duo with “AVAST!” [Nautical “Knock it off!”] and APORT [To the left, to Popeye]. And the direction to [“Freeze!”] “DON’T MOVE!” perhaps ties into [Prepares to be shot?] and SMILES.

“I RESIGN” is a [Quitter’s declaration], but I keep finding myself parsing it as IRE SIGN, as in [Getting red in the face], or thinking of it as an almost FIRE SIGN (Interestingly, water-bearer Aquarius is an air sign and not a water sign.)

They’re clued in a very direct way, but I liked seeing the adjectives GRAVE and CREEPY and NOISIER in the grid. Fave cross? Why, that’d be UNDUE [Excessive] and ON CUE [When the script indicates].

Finally, going back to that title, did you know that there are some 85 movies that have used that phrase? Check it out!

Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 6I’m woefully short on time this morning—please see my L.A. Crossword Confidential post. Theme is SNACK FOODs that you can’t eat when they’re included in inedible noun phrases.

Also, if you get the letters in ENIAC (’46 computer) and UNIVAC (’51 computer) mixed up, picture Michael CAINE sitting at an ENIAC, as that machine is his last name spelled backwards. If the answer’s 5 letters, CAINE backwards is your guy.

Matt Jones’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Region capture 7Not a fan of the theme: DOUBLE SHOT of espresso leads to four other “double shots”: made-up phrases consisting of two words that can mean “shot.” FIRED FLING, BROKEN INJECTION, AMMO GUESS, and PHOTOGRAPHED TRY are all too unnatural. Two theme entries have verb forms of “shot” (FIRED, PHOTOGRAPHED) but the others don’t, and I dunno, it just didn’t hang together well for me.

PARONYM is perhaps the least familiar word in the grid, and this [Linguistic term for a word that’s almost the same as another word, like “affect” and “effect.” It’s unfortunate that the A crosses perhaps the least familiar name in the grid, TOWA: [“Groove Is in the Heart” DJ Tei].

I had one wrong square: I read the 60D clue, [Gp. on nutrition labels]. Turns out it’s the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that’s in charge of the RDA labels, not the FDA, but hey, I had to put down a 3-letter answer and didn’t look at the crossing. RDA is not a group! It’s short for “recommended daily (or dietary) allowance.”

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Dropping Trou”

Region capture 8Still haven’t gotten around to watching the “PANTS ON THE GROUND” video that’s gone viral and is, I believe, from the American Idol auditions. So I have no idea what it has to do with GIVES SHORT SHRIFT and JEAN SIBELIUS. At least I’ve seen plenty of mentions in the last week of the video, so I filled in 62A quickly.

This is among the easiest BEQ blog puzzles, if my time is any indication.

Kudos to BEQ partnering the full-named fictional JEM FINCH from an anti-racist novel with the word NEGRO, with a topical Harry Reid clue. Boo on the roll-your-own word REHONE, though.

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13 Responses to Wednesday, 1/20/10

  1. ArtLvr says:

    What a Trip! Very clever, very enjoyable — and if we could have a TEDDY recently, then there’s no reason not to see a JOCK STRAP too? Egads, the Onion actually has clues for both Armpits and Genitalia today…

  2. Evad says:

    Felt the NSC, CARPE, EPOPEE crossings a bit rough for Weds, but nice tight theme, supported by JOCKSTRAP. I do recall Trip’s penchant for religious entries; here we have LAITY and BISHOP.

  3. Barry G says:

    EPOPEE? Really? I figured I must have made a mistake somewhere, but EPOPEE was correct after all.

    Ya learn something new every day, I guess…

  4. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I loved EPOPEE when it first came out in America in the ’70s. European-style hazelnut inside chocolate topped with caramel. Oh, wait, that was Toffifay.

  5. david H says:

    breezed through the NYT and Chronicle today – enjoyed them both, but the Onion made me cry … had to look up almost the entire NE Corner – never heard of any of it.

  6. Matt J. says:

    I guess this blog could be like Jersey Shore–there’s definitely a lot of Orange involved. [ba-donk CHHH]

  7. Mel Park says:

    Well, at least the Onion had AXILLA. I see it far less than the AXIL of the plant kingdom. Both could be clued “Angle between trunk and a limb,” which passes the breakfast test better than “Armpit” did today.

  8. Squonk says:

    In BEQ’s puzzle, there’s a word for “things you wear on your legs” (SHORTS and JEANS) on top of a word that means “ground” (EARTH and TERRAIN). In the blog, BEQ says he overuses this gimmick, but I kind of like it, so I didn’t mind.

  9. Martin says:

    Rehone is an established word for gearheads. I rehone knives all the time too, but most people would just say “sharpen.” The distinction is real however. Japanese knives (and tools) are normally dressed with three stones of increasing fineness. Periodically you use all three, but often you can get a satisfactory edge by just touching up the blade with the “finish” stone. Rehoning is a logical name for this.

  10. Jon S. says:

    I was surprised to see ETTA James clued as other than “Jazzy James” or something similar – more like an opera singer clue.

    I wonder if Mr. ISAAK ever rues the enormity of “Wicked Game”. He’s a talented singer who deserves more attention than he’s received in the intervening…yikes…almost twenty years?

  11. joon says:

    what’s so heinous about “wicked game”?

  12. HH says:

    “Armpit” doesn’t pass the breakfast test?

    May I make a suggestion? Sleep late and do the puzzle at lunch. ya prudes!!!!!

  13. Jan says:

    According to Hollywood legend, Fred Astaire’s 1933 RKO screen test report said “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Can dance a little.”

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