Wednesday, 3/3/10

BEQ 4:17
LAT 4:11
Jonesin’ 4:06
NYT 3:13
CS untimed

If, like me, you usually wait for the Jonesin’ puzzle to land in your in-box via the Google Group e-mail, you may have a long wait this week. Instead, head to the Google Group page to download the puzzle in Across Lite or JPEG form.

Peter Collins’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 17It’s Oscar week and the Vancouver Olympics just ended. This puzzle brings those two things together in a cross-referencing explosion:

  • 18A. RED AND WHITE is [Like the Canadian flag…and hint to the first names of 24- and 48-Across]. Speaking of Canadian flags, QUEBEC is clued with [Its flag sports four fleurs-de-lis] at 5D, just for the hell of it. Distracting to throw more Canadian flaggery in here when that’s not the point of the theme at all.
  • 24A. [1939 role for 57-Across, for which she won a 38-Across] is SCARLETT O’HARA. Scarlet with one T is a shade of red.
  • 38A. The OSCAR is clued [See 24- and 48-Across]. Scarcely noticed this entry while solving because the crossings were easy.
  • 48A. BLANCHE DUBOIS is a [1951 role for 57-Across, for which she won a 38-Across]. Blanche is a French name meaning “white.”
  • 57A. VIVIEN LEIGH is clued, like OSCAR, with [See 24- and 48-Across].

Non-fans of cross-referenced clues likely pitched a fit while solving this puzzle. You’d think the overall difficulty would have increased with the vagueness of the theme clues, but the fill seemed mostly pitched to an easy Wednesday level.

Weirdest clue playing two roles: [Where Orvieto can be found] is ITALY (51D) and a BAR (22A). What is that, a wine? A liqueur? Answer: a white wine I’ve never heard of. A handful of other clues:

  • 4A. An [Equilateral quadrilateral] is a SQUARE. I had to think about that one.
  • Heh. 17A clues ALI as [Tatyana of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”]. She played the little sister in the Banks family (Karyn Parsons was the big sister, and that one guy played dorky brother Carlton), and went on to a music career. You all knew that, right? (The same general era of TV gives us DELANEY, [Kim of “NYPD Blue”]. It was some years earlier that we had Ms. CARNES, the [Kim who sang “Bette Davis Eyes”].)
  • 37A. [Eight the hard way, e.g.] is a ROLL of the dice in craps.
  • 46A. GARR is actress Teri, sure, but also a [Fox News star] I don’t think I’ve heard of.
  • 11D. Don’t see PHILANDER used much without an -er or -ing ending, do you? [Fool around] is the clue, which doesn’t quite encapsulate philandering.
  • 50D. [Menaces from the deep] or from the SeaWorld tank are ORCAS.

Region capture 18Edited to add: Apparently the applet version didn’t get the same fixes the Across Lite version got. The applet has BECK clued as the [One-named singer of “Loser,” 1994], whereas the Across Lite version clues BECK as the [Fox News star], Joon reports. In Across Lite, GARR is clued as 1974 NL batting champ Ralph, who is a complete nonentity to me. It’s late, I’m watching a Simon Pegg movie, and I can’t be bothered to check the Across Lite version for other differences—but if you think my post makes no sense and you solved a different version of the puzzle, that may account for the nonsensicalness.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Stella Daily & Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Mix It Up”—Janie’s review

Any cooks out there? If so, then you probably know that the words that end the four theme phrases are all found in recipes and are each different ways to “mix up” the wet ingredients. Sometimes they’re stand-alone instructions; sometimes they’re used in combination. Regardless, in the theme fill, these words are nouns; in recipes, they’re verbs. What’s really nice is the way Stella and Bruce have gridded them in increasing intensity–from the gentle to the gyratory. They’ve done this with:

  • 17A. IN THE FOLD [No longer astray]. My context for this clue/fill comes from Guys and Dolls and Frank Loesser’s first lyrics for Salvation Army Sargeant Sarah Brown, who sings:
    “Follow the fold and stray no more,
    “Stray no more, stray no more…”
  • 28A. CREATING A STIR [Causing commotion].
  • 49A. DON’T MISS A BEAT [Have the rhythm down pat]. Wish I could be more specific, but something about this phrase doesn’t land right on my ear–not unlike CO-HEIRS for [Fortune sharers, perhaps]. If you say so… Still, thanks for the reminder of Hairspray‘s “You Can’t Stop the Beat.” (This clip is from the Tony Awards).
  • 65A. BUGGY WHIP [Driver’s tool of old].

Never heard of “Tempranillo,” so had to work deductively off the second word in the clue [Tempranillo tippler] to arrive at WINO (though the Tempranillo grape doesn’t exactly conjure up Thunderbird for me…). Another clue that required a second thought was [Butler’s mate]. “Butler” here does not refer to a memberof the household staff but to GWTW‘s hero Rhett. His “mate”? Scarlett O’HARA, of course.

Appreciated the pair of writing-iron references, by way of [Bic] STIC [(pen brand)] and FELT-TIP [Feature of a Sharpie]. I think we can safely say that [Icelandic epic] EDDA was written with neither.

ANNIE appears for the second day in a row, yesterday with reference to Diane Keaton’s role in Annie Hall, today as [Cartoon orphan]. More interesting to me, though, was NORMAN [English invader of 1066] for sparking memories of last season’s triumphant theatrical trilogy, Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests–one very dark and brilliant comedy of manners.

Ken Bessette’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 16(Excerpted from my L.A. Crossword Confidential post.)

THEME: “The Ayes Have It”—The ends of four answers rhyme with “ayes,” using four different spellings for the long “I” sound. The theme entries:

  • 17A: [Fibs] (LITTLE WHITE LIES).
  • 25A: [Seductive peepers] (BEDROOM EYES).
  • 45A: [Like large cereal boxes] (ECONOMY SIZE).
  • 57A: [1963 Elvis hit with the lyrics “You look like an angel…but I got wise”] (“DEVIL IN DISGUISE”). Never heard of it.

I could not find the groove in Ken Bessette’s clues. The puzzle took me 4:11, which corresponds to a Thursday NYT level of difficulty and is not what I expect from a Wednesday LAT. Am I just off-kilter today, or is this puzzle harder than you expected it to be? I think it’s the puzzle, because there was some oddball fill. There were also a number of clues that slowed me down, but these answers did not come easy:

  • 32A: [A car with this is often easier to resell] clues ONE OWNER. Feels on the border between a solid crossword entry and an arbitrary combination of words. Maybe if it were clued as a car’s status or provenance that can increase resale value rather than with the awkward “a car with this” phrasing?
  • 50A: IN A PILE is clued as [Like some test papers awaiting grading]. (Ish. 34D: AMASS is clued with [Pile up], reusing the key word in 50A.)
  • 5D: [Easily heard herd leader] is a BELL COW?!? What on earth is a BELL COW? I have never encountered this term before. I’m all about “more cowbell,” sure, but definitely less bell cow.
  • 38D: [No different from, with “the”] clues SAME AS. Wait. Is this really a 6-leter partial entry?
  • 43D: BY NIGHT is clued as [When “They Drive,” in a 1940 Raft/Bogart film]. Wait, hang on. A 7-letter partial clued by way of a movie I’ve never heard of from 70 years ago? Do not like.

Clues of note:

  • 1A: [Hit bottom?] (SIDE B). I started with SPANK, considered past-tense HIDED, and waited for the crossings to rescue me—side B of a hit record.
  • 24A: [Inauguration Day events] (GALAS). Raise your hand if you had OATHS.
  • 36A: [Deadens] (DAMPS). Raise your hand if you had NUMBS.
  • Language lesson time! 39A: [Spanish hand] (MANO); 44A: [His, to Henri] (SES); 2D: [Term paper abbr.] (IBID.); 4D: [Part of i.e.] (EST); 7D: [German “I”] (ICH); 28D: [___ culpa] (MEA); 54D: [Done, to Dumas] (FINI); 58D: [___ gratia: by the grace of God] (DEI). That’s one Spanish, one German, two French, and four Latin words. But who’s counting?
  • 12D: [Suffix with four, six, seven and nine] (TEEN). Love this clue.

Crosswordese 101: MAA—I know what you’re saying. 29A: [Barnyard sound], 3 letters…could go in a couple directions. Starts with an M? Must be that dang bell cow’s MOO. Ends with AA? Must be the sheep’s BAA. But every so often, the crossword throws you MAA. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to accept that you’ll run into it from time to time. The most common clues reach absolutely no consensus as to which barnyard animal says MAA. It could be a calf’s cry, a goat’s bleat, or a ram, lamb, or ewe’s sound. If you’re lucky, the constructor goes with the goat because then you won’t be swayed by the MOO and BAA options.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “The Future Is Now—and they got it wrong”

Region capture 19The theme centers on past predictions, from fiction and non-, for 2010 that have not been borne out yet:

  • 1A. ROBOT is [What writer Malcolm Peltu predicted could “cross a busy highway without being hit” in 2010]. Dang, I wanted CHICKEN but it wouldn’t fit.
  • 25A. [With “The,” country that’s already a U.S. state by 2010, in the 1968 novel “Stand on Zanzibar”] clues PHILIPPINES.
  • 33A. FLIGHT TO JUPITER is the [Manned space mission that gets carried out in the 1984 movie “2010”].
  • 49A. CYBERNATION is the [Online world where people live and pay taxes in 2010, according to Tom Clancy’s “Net Force” series]. Close!
  • 64A. [Its cause is what rocket scientist Robert Truax predicted would be found and corrected by 2010] clues AGING. We’re nowhere near that one.

Five from the fill:

  • 8D. [Pertaining to pee] clues URETIC. In 20 years of medical editing (some involving urology books), I have never encountered this word. Not a good addition to a constructor’s database.
  • 15A. [Fetal position?] clues WOMB. Ha! Cute.
  • 61A. The MILAN is a [Sedan named for an Italian city]. It’s a Mercury, isn’t it?
  • Didn’t know the name, but the clue took me straight to it anyway: [Winston Churchill’s niece (and no, she never went door-to-door)] clues LADY AVON. Well played, Matt.
  • 37D. UTWOS looks like UT-WOS, doesn’t it? It’s U-TWOS, as in U-2 planes, those [Spy planes of the ’60s].

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Tilt”

Damn, I thought I was done blogging for the day extra-early. Forgot about the BEQ until I saw @fleetwoodwack’s tweet!

I love themes that hinge on messing around with a letter’s form. In this one, the letter N sometimes needs to “tilt” to turn into a Z, changing a familiar phrase into a concocted phrase that fits the clue:

  • 18A. [Pride-filled puzzle?] is LION’S MAZE (maNe). The N in LION is untouched here.
  • 24A. [Tastemaker?] clues CRAZE OPERATOR (craNe).
  • 38A. Twain’s Huckleberry FiNN becomes HUCKLEBERRY FIZZ. The clue is [Carbonated citrus-flavored drink?], though huckleberries are related to blueberries and not oranges.
  • 48A. FUZZY BUSINESS (fuNNy) is clued as [Teddy bear company’s financial concern?]. The N in BUSINESS doesn’t tilt.
  • 58A. Are you up on your Catholic history trivia? [Pope before the first pope?] clues PETER ZERO, playing on Peter Nero, whom I  know only from crosswords. If you’d asked me the name of the first pope, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have come up with Peter I…wait, that’s a Russian tsar. St. Peter?

My favorite answer in the fill looks like a partial but isn’t: 7D: “I LIKE” is clued [“Ni-i-i-i-ice”] and is a stand-alone spoken phrase these days.

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15 Responses to Wednesday, 3/3/10

  1. Jerry says:

    Ralph Garr wass the 1974 National League batting champion. he was an outfielder for the Atlanta Braves(46A).

  2. Wes says:

    I couldn’t think of the actress’s name, until my Chinese coworker told me it was “Feiwen Li” – that’s Vivien Leigh in Chinese! It was enough to jog my memory.

  3. LARRY says:

    I still can’t get the link to the .puz version of the Jonesin puzzle this week. Anyone have any ideas? Matt? Help!!!

  4. Gareth says:

    Second time in 2 weeks it’s (for me) been hard Tuesday, easy Wednesday.

    Did the top-left 5X3 first up, and that made 24A obvious, and I immediately hopped over to 57A and 38A and filled those in, made the rest of the puzzle quite easy! Was not aware she also played 48A though. The 18A connection was amusingly offbeat and it’s a nice touch to cross it with QUEBEC! I see there’s dissenting opinions on that though…

    Someone needs to get ORCAs a better press agent… “Menaces!”

    Edited to add:
    If you feel your life doesn’t have enough crosswords in it I uploaded… Still a rookie constructor so feel free to tell me why it’s the worst puzzle you’ve ever solved…

  5. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Gareth, at SeaWorld in Florida, a trainer at the popular killer whale show was killed last week by a killer whale, during the show. I no longer think orcas are cute. (Or that keeping marine mammals in small tanks and having them perform for people is at all a good idea.)

    Larry, do you get a corrupted Across Lite file with this .puz link?

  6. Stan says:

    Love Simon Pegg — let’s get him into puzzles.


  7. Rob says:

    Will the Jonesin’ puzzle lead to a whole new family of bad jokes? “Why did the robot cross the road? To get to the other side!” Sorry… it’s been a weird week.

    And the Milan is indeed a Mercury – – and one that I’m sure every crossword constructor can afford… :)

    LAT: for 24A, I tried BALLS until I remembered that it was a newspaper puzzle… :)

  8. joon says:

    hand is up for both SPANK and OATHS in the LAT, and i definitely looked askance at BELLCOW, ONE OWNER, and BY NIGHT. and i didn’t know the elvis song, and even BEDROOM EYES is only vaguely familiar. SAME AS has always seemed like a partial to me, but it’s quite common. we last saw it in the LAT only 6 days ago. anyway, after all that, i have no idea how i finished it so fast.

    i thought the jonesin’ theme was really cool. reminded me of the running conan gag, “in the year 2000.”

    saint peter was indeed the first pope. jesus personally appointed him as the “rock” of his church. i don’t think this is particularly obscure as catholic trivia goes. that was definitely my favorite of the BEQ theme answers. anyway, he’s the only pope named peter so far, perhaps because some idiot in the middle ages made a prediction that peter II would be the last pope before the apocalypse. there’s no prophecy about peter zero, however.

  9. Jeffrey says:

    Canadian flaggery?

    Even I knew Peter was the first pope.

    Virtual taxes are being seriously considered so CYBER NATION may exist soon.

  10. Martin says:

    Note to the Matts:

    Tsetse flies don’t carry malaria.

  11. LARRY says:

    I think it’s sleeping sickness. Confirmed by Wikipedia.

  12. Mitchs says:

    Thanks for explaining BEQ’s theme. With a couple of exceptional crossings, I found that the toughest part of the puzzle!

  13. sbmanion says:


    To the extent that you need any further convincing about sea mammals in captivity, see a documentary called The Cove. It is about the harvesting of dolphins in Japan. The best ones are culled for use in Sea World-type water shows and can fetch prices in excess of $100,000. The rest…. Not for the faint of heart.


  14. Martin says:

    There’s a little article on a Hawaiian dolphin, the “false killer whale,” in Science this week. When one catches a fish, he or she takes a bite and passes it on to a podmate. This food sharing is so important that they will share their catch with humans who happen to be nearby. The article quotes a scientist who was given half a tuna by a false killer whale while diving. He politely passed it back and the dolphin took a bite and passed it on. The diver called it a “magical moment.”

  15. Matt Gaffney says:

    Martin —

    You’re right.

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