Thursday, 2/11/10

Fireball 6:33
NYT 4:19
LAT 3:36
CS untimed
Tausig untimed

Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword

Region capture 1Lincoln’s birthday is Friday, February 12, but Friday’s usually themeless day in the NYT so the 201st birthday puzzle arrives one day early. The whole theme is wrapped up in the clue for the 3-letter answer at 62D: ABE. He gave the GETTYSBURG Address, issued the EMANCIPATION / PROCLAMATION, was the first president elected from the REPUBLICAN Party, and…the end of the clue is cut off in the applet. “…and he liked to eat 48-Down,” NACHOS? Probably not. Across Lite or newspaper solvers, fill me in—how does the 62D clue end?

Among the tougher stuff in this puzzle, we’ve got these ones:

  • 69A. SION is the [Capital of Valais]. I’ve seen this answer with a “Priory of Sion”/Da Vinci Code clue, but Valais? Not ringing a bell.
  • 31D. OPTO looks weird in the grid, but is plain to see as [Vision: Prefix]. I had oculo- on the mind.
  • 12D. A [Knot] of wood is a BURL.
  • 11D. EQUATIONS are [Some memorization for a physics test].
  • 39D. [Mezza ___] VOCE looks to be one of those musical terms I’m not familiar with.
  • 38A. [Beat in a race] clues OUTVOTE, but who’s doing it and what they’re doing feels muddled to me. If you’re the candidate, you beat your opponent but don’t OUTVOTE them. And the people who are doing the voting, they’re not winning the race, they’re picking the winner of the race. What equivalency am I missing here?
  • 3D. MERCY? [It’s sometimes given to prisoners].
  • 10A. Eugene DEBS is the [Third-place presidential candidate of 1920 who ran his campaign from jail].
  • 43A. SLS are [Classic Mercedes roadsters]. I needed all the crossings here.
  • 46D. The plural of minimum is MINIMA, or [Nadirs].

Updated Thursday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Dough? Sí, Dough”—Janie’s review

Found money is always an unexpected treat and Patrick’s puzzle provides a little to brighten your day. The currency in question, as suggested by the title (and confirmed at 73A) is the PESO [“Dough” found in this puzzle’s four longest answers]. And those “four longest answers” are all terrific:

  • 17A. GRAPE SODA [Fizzy purple beverage].
  • 11D. BAGPIPE SOLO [Rendition at some Scottish funerals]. There seems to be a Scottish sub-theme here, with [Highlands girl] LASS and [Kilt crease] PLEAT in the mix. Remember: “If it’s not Scottish it’s crap!!
  • 25D. I SURE HOPE SO [Phrase of expectant desire]. Me, too! (Interesting. We don’t usually see the hidden word at the end of the phrase.)
  • 64A. SCOPES OUT [Examines, slangily]. Love this phrase. Also cases out. But, dang–there’s no dough in there…

Now while the theme letters don’t appear right next to each other, they do appear sequentially for one more coin in ESPRESSO [Starbucks serving]. For my money (so to speak) there’s even more to be mined by way of puzzle “gold.” Note that the clue for REGAL is [Suitable for a sovereign], then remember that the sovereign is a valuable coin in England. (And while we’re across the pond, ESSEX is that [English earldom]). Although JAR is clued today as a [Cookie container], lotso folks use one as a coin container.

While the cluing is fine, I feel like the fill outstrips it for liveliness. Clues I particularly liked include the image-specific [Oscar the Grouch’s expression] for SCOWL and the scenario-creating [“You wanted my attention?”] for “YES?” I question [Clears, as a hurdle] for LEAPS. Shouldn’t “with ‘over'” be part of the clue here? I’m having trouble with the substitution test…

Some more of that lively fill includes another great phrase, SCARES UP [Locates with difficulty]; BUMPY [Like a toad’s skin], LISZT [“Faust Symphony” composer], and HOAX [It’s perpetrated by a prankster]. I also like the assonance in the SW corner with ASOCIAL, OCEANS and LOPE.

Once again, Patrick has produced a pangram. As they say in the land where you can spend those pesos, “OLÉ!” [“Superb, Señor!”].
Amy here again—I’m short on time this morning, between my kid being off school and a handyman coming. Quick blogging!

Nancy Salomon’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 3The theme unifier, LOVE IS ALL AROUND, describes the other theme entries, which follow a LO…VE pattern. LOOK ALIVE and LONESOME DOVE are great, but LOW EXPLOSIVE seems frightfully unfamiliar to be a theme entry, and I don’t know enough about golf to know how “in the language” LONG DRIVE is—but it’s not much “in the language” outside of golf, other than going for a long drive in the car.

It seems weird to clue SAL as [___ soda]. This is a term I have encountered only in crosswords. (And there are people named Sal who would love to be a clue.) Same with NEBS—these [Birds’ bills] are a word I’ve only run into in the grid. Maybe ornithologists use it a lot?

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword #6, “Themeless 4”

Region capture 2It’s obvious that some patron of the cruciverbal arts paid to have MIKE KRZYZEWSKI slotted at 1-Across. I spelled it on the first try, having messed it up about two weeks ago.

How’d you like the difficulty level this week? Felt like a Saturday NYT in terms of the effort required, but qualitatively a different flavor. It didn’t feel like an NYT or LAT or Newsday or CS themeless at all.


  • COLONEL SANDERS is a [Yum! Brands mascot]. It was either him, the Taco Bell chihuahua, or a nonexistent Pepsi mascot.
  • [RFK protector, once] is a TARP. RFK Stadium no longer exists, is that the deal? Kinda wanted SECRET SERVICE but it wouldn’t fit.
  • Why is an ALARM a [Cause of a job stoppage?]?
  • ALICE is clued as [Actress Faye whose full name is a Pig-Latinized English word]. I hadn’t put two and two together while solving: phallus.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Buzzed Words”

Region capture 4The theme entries are four common two-word phrases in which the first word is turned into a verb and put into the past tense to make that first word into a synonym of “drunk.” Now, the title is “Buzzed Words,” which suggests buzzwords +ED, and the first three theme entries do follow a +ED mode. But that’s not what the theme is doing—it’s take a noun/adjective -> switch to the word’s verb sense -> apply past tense -> get a “drunk” word -> clue in appropriate drunk fashion. So the BOMBED SQUAD of cops is slurring its words in the clue. The PLASTERED CAST of actors can no longer spell. I can hear the slurred hiccups of the WRECKED DIVERS by the pool. The light infantry turns into a LIT INFANTRY.

When I test-solved this puzzle, I suggested changing the title to “Buzz Words” to lessen the “wait, I thought we were adding -ED” experience, but Ben said he had a previous puzzle by that title. No, I don’t know why a title can’t be reused, either.

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26 Responses to Thursday, 2/11/10

  1. Jeffrey says:

    …and whose name can be found in this puzzle’s main diagonal

  2. Joe Burke says:

    One side can beat a proposal by outvoting it? I dunno, it’s a stretch — that kind of vote isn’t really a race.

    I found this one way easier than an average Thursday, but still fun.

  3. joon says:

    funky. was this the final puzzle at westport? last year’s final puzzle was also a lincoln’s birthday tribute. of course, last year the thursday after westport was actually 2/12, and plus it was his 200th birthday, so more of an anniversary occasion. CHARLES R DARWIN got mixed in there, too, iirc.

    either way, highly impressive feat of construction today. wow. easy for a thursday (as soon as i saw “see 62-down,” i put in about 60 letters), but still, wow.

  4. foodie says:

    Amy, it was hard to even read the clue in Across Lite. I had to keep changing the lay out until I saw the whole thing, half way through solving. And that diagonal was helpful as it opened up the northwest for me… I had HEMI in lieu of ATMO…

    I also had trouble with OUT VOTE. The clue could have been improved.

  5. joon says:

    in my dictionary, OUTVOTE is defined as “defeat by tallying a greater number of votes.” that’s exactly what the clue says it means. it’s not what the word sounds like it means, but the clue is unimprovable.

  6. Matt Gaffney says:

    14:40 on Fireball. I had everything but the bottom done in about 8 minutes but took a long time to break thru down there.

  7. Wes says:

    Is it just me, or did anyone else find the theme painfully obvious? After reading the 62D clue, I immediately filled in all the theme answers without having any crossings, and I have a feeling I wasn’t the only one.

  8. LARRY says:

    Googled “Sion” and it is the capital of the Swiss province (state?, district?) of Valais. It seems to me we’ve been seeing a lot of “Sion” lately as the priory in the Da Vinci Code, a book I read and promptly forgot all the details.

  9. Gareth says:

    Couldn’t read 62D… So was excruciatingly hard. Eventually, I realised after nearly 8 minutes to look on the sidebar. Most of the puzzle then dropped in a few minutes, except those few squares in the top-left… Which took about 3 minutes on their on own. Had MERCY/MYTH/OHM, then added HEMI… Got rid of HEMI, typed in IBEAM. Found the clues for ACDC, ORNATE and CBER amazingly hard to fathom, though the last 2 were obvious once worked out (of course). Anyone else have SALADIN for SARACEN? They have an amazing number of letters in common! Strangest kneejerk: putting in SLIT for 67A, realized immediately that that was a highly unlikely answer in any sane crossword…

  10. duke says:

    if you place your cursor on the clue at the side bar, the whole clue opens automatically. Easy to fill in all the theme answers after ABE but the fill was a bit of a struggle.

  11. Jan (danjan) says:

    joon – No, this puzzle wasn’t used at Westport. We had this week’s Mon and Tues, but the other two are from next week; I’m assuming next Wed and Thu.

  12. joon says:

    thought more about OUTVOTE as i was trying to fall asleep last night. the definition is right, but i think i’ve only heard it used in the passive voice, e.g. “we thought it was a terrible plan, but we were outvoted.” still, that’s what it means: get more votes than. OUTVOTE : VOTE :: OUTPOLL : POLL? but definitely not OUTPERFORM : PERFORM or any of the “normal” OUT- formations.

    9:09 on the fireball (paper). usually i can do a lot more damage when i can immediately crack 1-across in a puzzle, but not this time. still, i think this was my favorite fireball themeless. it’s the first one without any grid-spanning answers i’d never heard of.

  13. Jim Finder says:

    Times: The crossing of SHOGI and SION was my Waterloo. Gotta learn those Japanese games. Live and learn.

  14. John Haber says:

    I, too, needed all the crossings for SLS and was defeated by SHOGI and SION. From my little French geography, SAON sounded more plausible, in fact, but I’m thinking of the Saone river. I didn’t know the “Mamma Mia” song, and both OPTI and OPTO would work as prefixes, but SOS sounded much more plausible as a song title. I agree that the OUTVOTE clue could be improved, but I bet they were thinking not of votes in Congress but rather votes for a candidate in a “race” (for office).

    All that said, impressive all that thematic material, even a diagonal on top of the usual theme entries. Wow. Of course, that made the puzzle easier. I entered pretty much all the theme letters before I had almost any fill, giving me a lot of crossings.

  15. joon says:

    according to peter’s answers, it’s because an alarm can stop a bank job (heist). the connection seemed pretty thin to me. RFK still exists, by the way. but they no longer play baseball there, since the nats have a shiny new park. dc united still plays at RFK, but since they can play soccer in the rain, no tarp. (i doubt they can play soccer in 3 feet of snow, but luckily the MLS season is over.)

  16. Howard B says:

    Had to love the complete sentence topping the Fireball crossword,
    “Mike Krzyzewski crusaded against Central Scotland.” That’s starting off with a bang.

    The bottom third was brutal for me, though, what with the ALICE clue (funny and insanely difficult), DERN (acting trivia, ugh), UAL, EEOC, etc. Balanced out, it was a great challenge level.

  17. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Ooh, Howard, I didn’t notice the sentence! (Wait…Central Scotland isn’t in the ACC.) It joins Harvey Estes’ “AL AND TIPPER GORE/CAME TO THE RESCUE/ONE WAY OR ANOTHER” and Byron Walden’s “OUT ON THE OPEN SEA/FRANCIS X BUSHMAN/FELT A LITTLE LOST.” Byron’s came first, in a 2005 NYT puzzle. Then I challenged Harvey to get a triple-stacked sentence too, and his came out in the NYT in January 2006. Does anyone know of others?

  18. Sam Donaldson says:

    “It’s obvious that some patron of the cruciverbal arts paid to have MIKE KRZYZEWSKI slotted at 1-Across.”

    You’re welcome. (I am going to add “patron of the cruciverbal arts” to my resume.)

  19. Evad says:

    Thanks, Sam! I too presumed that someone had paid for Coach K’s scrabbilicious name to appear in today’s Fireball. Loved so many of Peter’s misdirecting clues–“Temple bigwig” (university not synagogue), “Lighter in water” (boat as opposed to electric eel or less dense), “Pueblo dweller” (Colorado city not adobe home), “RFK protector” (the arena not the person), “Fair play” (fair is a noun here), etc., all made for a most enjoyable solve.

  20. Tim Platt says:

    I actually was able to read the whole clue of 62D in the timed applet, so I don’t know why it didn’t appear for you, Amy. Maybe someone tweaked the applet by the time I got to it late this afternoon. Easy for a Thursday, but as Joon said – Wow!

  21. Vicky says:

    Where is the untimed Tausig puzzle???

  22. *David* says:

    I was waiting to comment on the Tausig and that odd last theme which other then the alcohol reference didn’t match the other themes at all. Since Or-Amy didn’t post the puzzle I’m not commenting.

  23. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I went out for lunch at 11:45 and didn’t get home for six hours. I got shanghaied by a spur-of-the-moment Lenscrafters odyssey. Go ahead and chat about the Tausig puzzle–I’ll post it in a bit.

  24. ArtLvr says:

    @ janie — Superman leaps tall buildings at a single bound, no need to add “over”… but I expect there are times when you prefer to include it where “leap on” might be possibe — e.g. the dog leaped over the cat, though we thought at first he might be leaping on her?

    re Fireball: I didn’t get the pig-latin thing till coming here. Please tell Pete it didn’t fly?

  25. janie says:

    artlvr — “leaps tall buildings” — perfect example. thank you!


  26. Vicky says:

    Sorry about being pushy; just desperate to know if my puzzle was right. My only mistake was AAA instead of AAS. Never heard of Jacktar before.

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