Friday, 2/19/10

NYT 32:47 (SethG, Jill, Google)
CS Untimed
LAT 9:25 (SethG)
CHE 7:13 (SethG)
WSJ ~16:00 (yup, SethG)
BEQ 11:15 (and again, SethG)

Hey there! Amy and the gang, the whole gang, are off ACPTing, so for the next few days you’ll get me. Amy’s sent me the plan, and…did you know she blogs _a lot_ of puzzles? She blogs a lot of puzzles. I’m planning to cover all of them, though I neither solve nor write as efficiently as she does so we’ll see.

In any case, Amy says I’m clever. I am SethG.

Victor Fleming’s New York Times crossword

nyt100219I’m…not so clever. Man alive! I had trouble with this puzzle. There was a bunch of stuff I’d never heard of, and the SW killed me. [Dress down] clued BASTE, and I strongly considered waste or paste. And I had some wrong stuff: RINSING, not tinting, is a [Hair salon activity], and I forgot that [Weapon for Wonder Woman] was her TIARA, not riata. Getting RERATES [Downgrades, e.g.] and BE ASSURED [Encouraging statement start] from that took some work.

Stuff I didn’t know:

  • 15A. [“The Broken Tower” poet] is HART CRANE. Don’t know him, don’t know the poem.
  • 37A.RU PAUL was the [Host of a self-titled 1990s talk show].
  • 50D/51A. I’ve seen the shows, but I’m too young to have watched them regularly. So I didn’t know that [Lou Grant’s ex on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”] was EDIE, or that the [Secretary on “Hogan’s Heroes”] was HILDA.
  • 54A. [When women may get in for less] clues LADIES’ DAY. I’ve heard of Ladies’ Night, I didn’t realize they got specials for the whole 24 hours. Soon, they might even get a holiday, but just a few of them.
  • 59A. SPEEDSTER is a [Fleet type]. Is this a boat thing? I think it’s a boat thing.

My favorite clue, without a doubt, is [They have chocolate relatives] for BLACK LAB. Not overly tricky, but I like black Labs.

Updated Friday morning:

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

Using yesterday’s “divide-a-word” wordplay, Bob varies the gimmick by doing so within the theme phrase itself, “splitting” the word “log” between the two words of the theme phrases. The guilty parties today are:

  • 17A. ARLO GUTHRIE [“The City of New Orleans” singer]. Nice to see his name in its entirety.
  • 26A. JELL-O GELATIN [Some jigglers, somewhat redundantly]. I have a little trouble with this clue, which (to my ear) promises a plural. I think I’d’ve been happier with [It jiggles, somewhat redundantly]. I s’pose you could say that “some jigglers” are made of Jell-o gelatin, but that’s a very indirect substitution…
  • 43A. “HELLO, GOODBYE” [1967 Beatles chart-topper]. This song was released as a single and also appeared on the “Magical Mystery Tour” album. (Thought it might be on SGT. [Pepper, for one], but I thought wrong…) Bunch o’ “chart-toppers” (or high-rankers) in today’s puzzle, including [Dixie Cups chart-topper “] CHAPEL [of Love“], “CRY [Like a Baby” (1968 Box Tops hit)], and “ENDLESS [Love” (1994 hit for Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey]. Pump up the volume!
  • 56A. POLO GROUNDS [Stadium the Yankees sublet from the Giants from 1923 until 1922]. So hard to think of Manhattan as a place where polo is/was played, but in 1876 it definitely was. Check out the Wiki article. It’s filled with lots of interesting info about the four different stadiums that went by that name. Polo was played at the first one only.

If there’s nothing GRANDIOSE [More elaborate than necessary] about the theme, there’s lots to admire in the non-theme elements–that word grandiose for one, and RED LETTER [Particularly significant], the chewy SCHNITZEL [Some deep-fried cutlets] and that alphabet-using society, PHOENICIA [Lebanon in ancient times]. I also like the lively SHEBANG for [Ball of wax], (and speaking of round things…) GLOBULAR for [Spherical] and COOL OFF for [Love a little less].

Favorite bit of tid today: LADOGA [Europe’s largest lake]. Had no idea, did you? It’s in NW Russia, btw, even with that name that sounds like it could be Italian.

Among my favorite clues are: [Bottom-of-the-barrel bit ], [Certain bottom feeder] and [Baby bottom balm] for DREG, COD and TALC; [Little white thing] for LIE; [Crusty one] for PIE; [Palindromic deck] for POOP; [What excellent drivers often break] for PAR (so we’re talkin’ golf here); and [Washington post] for SENATOR (and not NEWSPAPER or SOUSA MARCH…).

Two combos that might need an explanation: [Shift sequence] is PRNDL–or Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive and Low; and [Hogback] is a specific kind of edgy, craggy tectonic land formation or RIDGE.

And only one near-repeat from yesterday. Yesterday’s ROAN [Speckled steed] is today’s ROANS [Two-toned trotters].

Dan Naddor’s Los Angeles Times crossword

lat100219Theme: AGELESS is [Eternal, and a hint to this puzzles phonetic theme]. Remove AGE from the end of a phrase, wind up with something that sounds like a wacky phrase, and clue the wackiness.

Theme entries:

  • 17A. [Newly certified coroner’s assignment?] is a FIRST MORGUE. I also have a home-ec loan, if you dump the witty.
  • 24A. [Lord’s ointment?] clues NOBLE SALVE. When I finished the puzzle I wasn’t sure if noble savage or noble salvage was the thing. It’s savage. (Not salvage.)
  • 34A. A MORAL CUR is a [Mutt with a conscience?].
  • 38A. [Sitting Bull telling raunchy jokes?] would be a RAW SIOUX.
  • 50A. A [Taxi with no empty seats?] would be a STUFFED CAB. I rode this one with 8 other adults and a baby.
  • 58A. VIENNA SAUCE would be a [Topping for schnitzel?].

I’m not sure why I had so much trouble coming up with these, the cluing on the wacky stuff was straightforward enough. Finally, I don’t much like rodents, though on the scale of things [Rabbitlike rodents] would not be the worst, but I do like the word AGOUTIS. I think all puzzles should have animals with strange names.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Physical Violence”

che100219Theme: ROCKET PAHK. Change the second part of a word or phrase to a homophonous physicist. The resulting phrase implies that said physicist shall be smitten.

Ah, this was much better for me. I actually know some physics, or at least some physicists, and all the base phrases are solidly in-the-language. And I liked the transposition from the normal grid shape I’m used to, with all of the theme entries running down.

Theme entries:

  • 3D. [Attack a physicist as a group?] is to GANG (up on Max) PLANCK. He has a constant.
  • 9D. [Violently robbing a physicist?] is ROLLING (Robert) BOYLE. He has a law.
  • 14D. [Accosting a physicist with one’s hands?] is GRAPPLING (Robert) HOOKE. Another law, with springs.
  • 23D. [Forcing a physicist’s car off the road?] is CRASHING (Niels) BOHR. He has an atom model, a physicist son, and is in a play.
  • 32D. [Bop a physicist on the head?] is CROWN (James Prescott) JOULE. A crosswordese derived unit.

Fun stuff includes [Ottoman neighbor?] for a RECLINER, symmetric SNL/NBC, and [U.S. threat level at airports] for AMY.

Did you know it’s really hard to repeatedly type ‘physicist’ without repeatedly typing ‘physicist’ incorrectly?

Janet Bender’s Wall Street Journal puzzle, “I’m a Mac”

wsj100219I’m not a I’m just MAC, and I’m embedded in each of the long answers this week. And if I’m PIMA COTTON [Underwear fabric] or PANAMA CITY [Museo del Canal Interoceanico setting], I’m sorta both.

  • WHO is a [Funny first baseman].
  • What was I thinking? With xxLIN, my first thought for [Condoleezza’s predecessor] was Palin, not COLIN. For [Home of the Utah Flash], my first thought was Utah before changing it to WNBA. It’s OREM.
  • I don’t know the [1973 George C. Scott film] OKLAHOMA CRUDE. I don’t think I even remember 1973.
  • Why yes, I did spend a long time in the industry. [Save 50c, say] is REDEEM A COUPON.
  • Because or Sporcle, that’s why I knew that TIRANA is [Albania’s capital].
  • Tomorrow, the tournament starts. Think ADORE, HOPE, not BLAH, DODO, LOSERS.
  • Today, I wonder why SANIT, the [City dept. that really cleans up]. doesn’t bother me more as a yucky abb.
  • I Don’t Give a Darn what [Texas’s state tree] is. PECAN? Whatever. (Hi, Wade and treedweller!)

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Allow Me to Introduce Myself”

beq100219If you’re wondering what the puzzles at the ACPT are like, this is what at least one puzzle at the ACPT was like–this puzzle was #2 at last year’s competition.

I neither went to the tournament nor solved at home, but it’s certainly possible I somehow remembered something about this from someone’s write-up because I solved this way (relatively) faster than I’d think I would given other times I’ve seen. That’s a heckuva sentence.

Plagiarising from Amy, if that’s possible on her own blog, the 17×17 puzzle’s title and blurb are “Allow Me To Introduce Myself: And if you didn’t hear me the first time…” Each of the theme answers incorporates two extra I’s (“myself”) to reorient a phrase:

  • 22A. [Making Taiwan’s capital livable in the winter?] clues INSULATING TAIPEI, building off “insulating tape.” That last E had a tough crossing: [One of the Nereids], or IONE. Amy originally had that as IONA but erased and fixed it, and another top solver made the same error but didn’t get around to fixing it. I knew TAIPEI better than the Nereids and avoided the trap.
  • 28A. [Monk’s wine?] is GREGORIAN CHIANTI.
  • 58A. CHOCK FULL O’ INUITS is [What the Arctic Circle is, population-wise?]. Chock Full o’ Nuts is a coffee brand. This one was extra sneaky because we had to juggle multiple possibilities. Is it CHOCKFUL with one L or CHOCK FULL with two L’s? OF or O’? If you didn’t notice that the other theme entries all added two I’s, you could be excused for thinking that CHOCK FULL OF NUITS worked…though the French and the Arctic Circle don’t really mesh…and that F would muck up the 60D crossing. Again, my background in consumer goods means I knew the coffee.
  • 67A. [Put some complete morons in touch with each other?] is CONNECT THE IDIOTS (“connect the dots”).

[We both] loved seeing the AXOLOTL, a [Salamander known as the Mexican walking fish], smack-dab in the middle of the grid at 31D. It’s no ESNE or ERNE, and yet it’s a word [we both] learned from crosswords. On Facebook, [we are both] officially fan[s] of the axolotl, and if you scroll down here, you can read a poem about it.

Here’s what Amy and BEQ said last year about this. Methinks if all the puzzles are this good I should solve by mail this year before I read any stories. And next year, maybe I’ll be there with them and we’ll have to find yet someone else to guest.

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35 Responses to Friday, 2/19/10

  1. Tuning Spork says:

    Yep. She solves a lot of puzzles.

    And it’s Friday.

    Oh, dear.

    You’re gonna do just fine, Seth. Just take a deep breath and make with the magic. It’s that easy. (<---Famous last words) :-) I had RIATA and PASTE (wha?) for the longest time, too. Totally @#$%d me up in the southwest for forever. And -- to put things in perspective -- I'm 46 years old and watched the Mary Tyler Moore Show like everyone else and STILL didn't remember that Mr. Grant's ex-wife was named "Edie". I know we need fresh clues every week, but sheesh!

  2. Gareth says:

    Tough (really tough) Friday for this duffer! But an awesome construction – check out the size of those top-right and bottom-left stacks!! But was top-left that was my bete noire. Hart Crane is a name that I knew (probably from crosswords) but had (have) no idea what his claim to fame is! Got YESNO, ITWAS and ONEA on the first pass, and wanted to put in FARMER but it looked so wrong! After that it was torture – eventually worked BROWNEYES out… then it all came together!

    Elsewhere: LADIESDAY sounded probable, but hadn’t heard of such a thing so hesitated for the longest time. Had PRIMETIME for DRIVETIME. No heavy metal clue for SLAYER :( ;). Amusing that LABRADORS and BLACKLABS (awesome entry!) are same length. The former was first guess, but was so patently wrong!

    What’s up with cruciverb since yesterday? Hackers again? Grr.

  3. Jeffrey says:

    One puzzle you don’t have to do is the Daily Beast, which alas is no more. I will return blogging a different puzzle.

    Jeffrey, Sleepless in Brooklyn

  4. Bob Blake says:

    C’mon, Amy, you’re from Chicago. Surely you know that Friday is always Ladies Day at Wrigley Field?

  5. Howard B says:

    Re: SPEEDSTER: Think of ‘fleet’ as an adjective for ‘quick’ in the clue. There you go.

    This is the kind of stuff you have to deal with on these weekend puzzles. Will often saves up some nastier puzzles for tournament weekend, it seems.

  6. SethG says:

    Howard B, I know Speedster is ‘quick’, but I wasn’t sure it was a [type]. It is a boat, though. Thus my confusion…

  7. mickbrown says:

    Re 49d, isn’t “complaint” a noun and “carp” a verb?

  8. Matt says:

    Good puzzle, but quite tough for a Friday, I thought– but poking away a clue at a time, it eventually got done. A few long-lasting confusions– in the NW I had BINS/BAYS and CUNY/CCNY confusion, and in the SE, HRH/HMS and HITMAN/SLAYER.

  9. Jim Finder says:

    What Matt said. In the SW I went from Lasso to Riata to Tiara. “Baste” didn’t come trippingly either, since that’s not one of the main definitions, but it’s legit for a Friday. The age thing was in my favor for a change: Watusi and Edie and GTE were gimmes. Favorite: BLACKLABS; gotta love ’em. See you tomorrow at ACPT.

  10. Wade says:

    I commiserate with you on the NYT puzzle, which defeated me. On the matter of blogging a dozen or so puzzles, I can only watch in horror and be glad it’s not me.

  11. joon says:

    mick, carp can be a noun or a verb (in this sense; obviously it can be a noun meaning a kind of fish).

    tough puzzle. i had HRH/HITMAN, too, and even after i changed it to SLAYER and worked out the rest of the crosses on the french title, i had LA DAME instead of MADAME and just kind of shrugged at HLS. that was kind of dumb, since LA DAME looks like a 6-letter partial (and foreign, no less). and if i had thought about it a second longer, i would have hit upon MADAME and then had the “aha” moment for HMS. sigh.

    they don’t penalize for mistakes in the ACPT, do they?

  12. Evad says:

    I threw in CRIKEY for 1-Down as my first entry and went downhill (a la Lindsey Vonn?) from there. Finally slogged my way through all but the aforementioned NW–having IT’D BE my pleasure also contributed to the struggle.

    I was thinking of SADIE Hawkins and put in SADIES DAY first. But I guess that has nothing to do with ladies paying less…perhaps they actually pay more on that day if they’re doing the pursuing?

  13. pfeiring says:

    Hart Crane is more known as the author of The Red Badge of Courage than as a poet. Of course I was trying to figure out who the poet Harturane was for a while because I too had CUNY instead of CCNY.


  14. mickbrown says:

    joon –

    Thanks. I know carp (fish) is a noun, but I don’t know that carp (to complain) is a noun, whereas “complaint” clearly is a noun. Does/would one say “I have a carp about today’s puzzle”? If so, I stand corrected!


  15. janie says:

    “you gotta have harte…”

    HARTE CRANE — eliot-inspired american poet; sometimes confused w/stephen crane — author of “the red badge of courage”

    bret harte — american author and poet (“the outcasts of poker flat”)


  16. pfeiring says:


  17. joon says:

    yeah, those three are always confused. takes the whole upton sinclair/sinclair lewis thing to another level. maybe there’s a great (actually horrible) BRET HARTE / HART CRANE / STEPHEN CRANE theme lurking here somewhere. if only there were an author named STEPHEN BRETT.

  18. Katie says:

    The Friday NYT was a bitch!

  19. janie says:

    brilliant, joon! no author — but look: a kiwi rugby player!

    loved the friday nyt, but oh that sw corner. EDESSA (+tinting + riata…). d’oh!


  20. Ruth says:

    TIARA is an anagram of RIATA. Huh. Bet Wonder Woman already knew that.

  21. Wade says:

    Wow, Seth, you’re stacking up the puzzles today. It’s like one of those hot-dog-eating contests. I’m envisioning you at a table with a pencil in each hand while a fire-brigade-line of assistants pass new puzzles down and across you while you scribble madly away. Keep ’em coming!

  22. Papa John says:

    Did no one else balk at 1A GOPHER, the rodent, for Gofer, the employee who runs errands? I was unable to find a reference for GOPHER as the office boy. One entry for gofer, in, actually said, “Not to be confused with gopher, the rodent.”

    I’m not able to reconcile the clue, 1D “Man alive!”, with the fill, OHBABY. What am I missing? I suppose they’re both minced exlpetives, but I don’t think they mean the same thing. I would use the term “Man alive” to express surprise or disgust toward something displeasureable, whereas “Oh, baby” seems to mean a pleasureable reaction to something.

    I’m also having a hard time with 14D SLOSHES as “Applies carelessly”. I think of slosh as more of an accident or a spill, not an application, per se.

    Depending on what “called up” means, in 8D “First to be called up”, aren’t the reserves the first to be called up?

    In fear of getting too political, all I can say is 34A JOETHEPLUMBER may have begun as a “metaphor for a middle class American”, but I think it ended up being the butt of a joke or, more seriously, a symbol for ridiculous lies.

    For some reason, I avoided most of the traps mentioned and, while I didn’t exactly sail through this one, it didn’t seem as tough as other Friday puzzles.

  23. Alex says:

    Wait, there’s no more Daily Beast puzzle? When did this happen?

  24. wobbith says:

    This was a breezy one for me. I was totally on Vic’s wavelength. Thought it might be my fastest Friday ever…. until I slammed into the Odessa-riata-tinting wall and bruised my head.

    Great job, Seth!

  25. cyberdiva says:

    Seth, where did you find the Chronicle of Higher Education Puzzle?? On the usual page at, the last one they have is last week’s. I’d LOVE to know a better source for these. They’re among my favorites.

  26. Martin says:

    Papa John,

    Most dictionaries accept “gopher.”

  27. SethG says:

    cyberdiva, I got it here! Specifically, at the Today’s Puzzles page.

  28. cyberdiva says:

    Seth, thanks VERY much! I’m not sure why the puzzle appears here and not on the Chronicle’s normal site, but I’m delighted it’s here.

  29. *David* says:

    I was surprised that Klahn put in LIE and LIED in the same puzzle albiet with different meanings to make it more palpatable but it seems a bit sneaky to me. Great puzzle otherwise.

    CHE interesting up/down direction with the punny themes, easier then usual in my book only questionable cross was AHERN/TNN.

    Thanks to Seth for the heavy lifting, significant recompense is coming your way from the Big O.

  30. John Haber says:

    I looked up gofer in RHUD, and it does say “also gopher.” I got that quadrant first, actually. I feel bad myself that I didn’t get Hart Crane sooner. Honestly, you should know him. Major American poet of early Modernism. I was just thinking of his “Chaplinesque” the other day, which is a poem to make you cry.

    I too found this a hard one and finished the SW last. I messed up for a bit in the SE with “hit man” instead of SLAYER (intersecting HRH instead of HMS). I didn’t recognize LADIES DAY either, thinking only of LADIES NIGHT in bars or restaurants (admittedly, not exactly in NYC anyhow). I had “riata” too, since TIARA seemed more like part of the costume than a weapon, but what do I know about comics, and I never followed that one!

  31. Sparky says:

    I always get around to this too late but, for what it’s worth, Wonder Woman took off the golden tiara and threw it like a boomerang to clunk some foe on the head.

  32. Daz says:

    I think “Fleet type” for SPEEDSTER has nothing to do with boats, but is just saying that a SPEEDSTER — one who is speedy — is a fleet [i.e., fast] type [i.e., member of an indicated class or variety of people].

  33. Jon S. says:

    SPEEDSTER is a Porsche, yes? I had to abandon this puzzle due to serial Olympics viewing.

  34. Vic says:

    Thanks for the nice comments. Sorry I did not post this last Friday. I was taken totally by surprise on Friday morning at the ACPT. I downloaded the puzzle in the hotel lobby and thought I had accidentally opened an Acrosslite file from a documents file on my laptop. I could barely remember the puzzle. It was submitted in October 2008. Over half the clues had been changed. I figured I needed to solve it so as to be able to respond to the comments, which were legion. I made every mistake that was mentioned in these comments and, with help from Merl, Marie, Bonnie and Patrick Creadon, was able to finish the puzzle in just under half an hour! Vic

  35. Taps Arter says:

    Susan Boyle is an immensely talented lady who’s been subjected to considerable criticism in the media. IMHO she deserves every bit of success that she is experiencing.

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