Thursday, 3/4/10

Fireball 7:52
NYT 4:10
LAT 3:32
CS untimed
Tausig untimed

David Kahn’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 21Kahn being Kahn, this theme is structured more rigidly than need be: each of the six anagrams of “metaphor” intersects the long MIXED METAPHOR at 14D, making a trellis of theme entries. Despite those answers being pretty well glued into place (they could be shuffled a bit), there’s plenty of other long fill around the theme—two 10s, two 9s, four 8s, and four 7s. Here’s the theme:

  • 14A. [*One who dislikes unruly hair?] might be a MOP HATER.
  • 21A. The OTHER MAP is an [*Alternative way to get directions?].
  • 34A. [*Better, in hip-hop slang?] might be MORE PHAT.
  • 38A. The [*Kitchen or living room?] is a HOME PART.
  • 45A. [*Via Veneto?], a famous street in Rome, clues ROME PATH.
  • 61A. To TOP MAHER is to [*Be funnier than comedian Bill?].
  • 24D. MIXED METAPHOR is the [Answer to each of the six starred clues, literally].

I like the mixed “metaphor” anagram concept better than the execution, as the theme answers are such oddball phrases.

Highlights from beyond the theme zone:

  • 16A. The DIME STORE is a [Bygone emporium]. Woolworth’s and Kresge’s, I kinda miss you and your wee lunch counters. The dollar store just isn’t the same.
  • 18A. [Housewares brand] clues OXO. Hell, yeah! The kid and I were peeling potatoes last weekend, with one Oxo peeler and one lousy peeler. Now that there’s another person in the house willing to go on KP duty, I realized two Oxo peelers were needed…so now I own three.
  • 35A. [Spanish waves] are OLAS. Spanish waves ‘hello,” mind you, are HOLAS.
  • 36A/36D. [Church perch] is PEW, while [Devotional bench] is PRIE-DIEU.
  • 41A. [Like XX vis-a-vis X, sizewise] clues LARGER. No, this isn’t about anything rated XXX.
  • 47A. Who is this ASP who’s a [Villainous member of the Serpent Society, in Marvel Comics]? Is he different from The Asp in “Little Orphan Annie”? (See also 6D: “TOMORROW,” [Song sung by an orphan].)
  • 56A. Ehhh…do not like this answer. [Football’s Adam Vinatieri, e.g.] is an EX-PATRIOT. I know we’ve seen things like EX-YANKEE before, but this just sits there in the grid looking like a woeful mangling of “expatriate.”
  • 63A. I confess I did not know “INTO YOU,” the [2003 hip-hop hit by Fabolous] (sic).
  • 2D. DANES make up [The majority of Jutlanders]. Who doesn’t love a little geography?
  • 23D. [Chip, maybe] clues the verb MAR. Dang, I was in the mood for a crunchy snack.
  • 29D. [Masked men with blades] sounds scary, but they’re merely NHL GOALIES. Is that a great entry or an awkward one, people?
  • 51D. What the…? Who?? EXON is the [Nebraska senator succeeded by Hagel].

Dan Naddor’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 20THEME: “Word Chain”—Six theme entries hook up in an endless word chain—the second part of an answer hooks up with the first part of the following answer, and so on, and so on.

Theme entries:

  • 18A: [*Place to keep supplies] (STOREROOM). Room service takes us to…
  • 20A: [*Target at the start of a point, in tennis] (SERVICE COURT). Court case segues to…
  • 30A: [*Patient record] (CASE HISTORY). The History Channel makes the transition to…
  • 43A: [*Jump around on the sofa?] CHANNEL SURF). Surfboard takes us to the next entry, which starts with BOARDING rather than BOARD.
  • 52A: [*Flying need] (BOARDING PASS). Say the password and move along to…
  • 25A: [*The answers to the starred clues (including this one) form a continuous one—its connections are created by the end of one answer and the start of the next] (WORD CHAIN). Chain store delivers us back to the beginning of the unbroken chain.

Other fill and clues from beyond the word chain:

  • 23A: [Start of a basic piano lesson scale (CDE). This is the sort of answer I have to get by way of the crossings. Music and I, we do not go way back.
  • 33A: [Ore-ida morsel] (TATER TOT). My kid loves tater tots. Meh. I prefer sweet potato fries with sea salt.
  • 39A: [Old way to get a number] (DIAL “O”). That should really be a zero and not the letter O, but crosswords do that sometimes, use an O in place of 0.
  • 60A: [Order-restoring tool] (GAVEL). Glad it wasn’t TASER. “Order in the court!”
  • 5D: [So-so] (MEDIOCRE). Imagine if this were a woefully mediocre puzzle. Then it would just be sad to see this word here. Luckily, the theme is cool.
  • 6D: [Available and fresh] (IN SEASON). Not much is in season in the Midwest right now.
  • 9D: [“___ the beef?”] (WHERE’S). Help me remember: Did anyone say “Where’s the beef?” in a non-literal sense before the Wendy’s commercials with Clara Peller in the ’80s? I think that ad introduced the phrase into our lexicon.
  • 11D: [“Is that ___?”] (A NO). This is Spanglish for “Is that anus?” As you may know, año is Spanish for “year,” but without the tilde over the n, common crossword answer ANO means…”anus.” To avoid the wrath of those who know Spanish, it’s good to go with the two-word partial A NO or AN O (“I’d like to buy ___, Pat”) sometimes.
  • 29D: [Jazz fan?] (UTAHAN). The Utah Jazz are an NBA team in Salt Lake City. Note that the name for a person from Utah can be either UTAHAN or the weird-looking UTAHN.

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword #9, “Themeless 7”

Region capture 22All right, the Fireball bobs back up to the tougher end of the spectrum this week. Onward, to the highlights! And the hard parts! And stuff!

  • Fancy math: 17A is PASCAL’S TRIANGLE. [It has ones on two sides].
  • 43A. To [Cover] a topic is to GO INTO it.
  • 56A. LE ROUGE ET LE NOIR was looking crazy as it came together in the grid. I pondered whether the [Stendhal novel subtitled “Chronique du XIXe Siecle”] contained the word GEETLE.
  • 61A. [Gut course?] clues DESSERT, but I don’t know why “gut” is in the clue. I really, really wanted the answer to be GI TRACT.
  • 5D. The dreaded SPAMBOT is a [Program that might get tripped up by a captcha]. Spambots like to leave comments and posts on blogs and discussion boards.
  • 6D. [Blokus pieces] are clear green, blue, red, or yellow TILES. Cool game. Highly recommended by game experts and me.
  • 7D. Quasimodo would be a great entry. Here, it’s used in a clue for EASTER: [Quasimodo is a week after it]. The best part of Quasimodo? The Quasimodo Bunny, of course.
  • 8D. I loved The World According to GARP back in the ’80s. Did not recall the part in this clue: [Fictional character whose biography was titled “Lunacy and Sorrow”].
  • 9D. [Forest part] clues IDI because Forest Whitaker played Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.
  • 11D. It’s about Vogue magazine, then? ANNA WINTOUR is the [Subject of “The September Issue”].
  • 48A. In Parliament’s House of Lords, LORDS are [House parties].

Updated Thursday morning:

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Yucky Feeling Inside”—Janie’s review

The three-letter word that says, “That’s gross” or “That’s yucky” connects the main words of today’s long theme phrases. There are four of them: two 15s and two 14s. Oh, yes–and the word in question? “Ick,” making its appearance this way:

  • 17A. PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE [Information available to everyone]. Thanks to the internet, there seems to be more of it than ever–or certainly easier access to it. This creeps me out sometimes.
  • 28A. NUMERIC KEYPADS [Features of ATMS]. A [Small key] on the other hand, is an ISLET (crossing that “E” in numeric).
  • 49A. PLATONIC KISSES [Passionless pecks]. Well, I guess they can’t all be scorchers. Regardless, hope they don’t invoke the “Ick” response…
  • 63A. THE MAGIC KINGDOM [Disneyland place]. As a child in the ’50s, this was my idea of the best possible place in the world to visit. Living on the east coast, however, my folks made it clear it was not to become a family vacation destination. I lived. Caught up with Disney World as as an adult. Um. Once was enuf… (Epcot, on the other hand surprised me–in a good way!)

In addition to those Ks (allowing, for example, for ANORAK [Arctic jacket]), this puzzle is rich with lotso scrabbly Xs and ZEDS, clued crytpic-style today as [Parts of a blizzard in London?]. We find the former most notably in SIX-GUN [Revolver] (which probably won’t be carried by a COWHAND [Ranch worker]), and also at the juncture of APEX [High point] and XENA [Lucy Lawless role] (low point? Never watched. Mustn’t judge). The latter appears in the symmetrically place OOZED [Exuded] and BOZOS [Dolt].

Nice to see ADELE clued as [Vaudeville dancer Astaire]. She was Fred’s older sister, and their vaudeville and Broadway careers (in which she was the draw) helped pave the way for Fred’s Hollywood career. Other folks who get shout-outs today include BILL NYE [TV’s “Science Guy”], astronomer (a “science guy” of a different sort) CARL [Sagan of “Cosmos”]; [“To Be Young, Gifted and Black” singer Simone] NINA (and what a voice of her time she was); and in his own way, ditto DEE DEE [One of the Ramones], I suppose. Love the look of LI’L KIM in the grid, too.

If you didn’t get your fill of FLAN last week, there’s more today of the [Custardy dessert of Spain]. Better to mention the playful cluing of the alliterative [Bacchanalian blowout] for ORGY and (double-whammy) [Palindromic Preminger] for OTTO. Also enjoyed the makes-ya-think-twice [It’s shaken on the bandstand] for MARACA, and the “Thanks-but-I’m-watching-my-weight” pair of COKE [___ Zero (diet soda)] and [Lo-___] CAL.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword

Region capture 23Yep, it’s still Oscar week, and Ben gets in on the action with a relevant theme:

  • 17A. OSCAR DISH is clued as [26-, 40-, or 52-Across…or gossip about March 7th, 2010]. Each OSCAR DISH that follows is a movie title expanded into a dish of food, clued with relation to both the movie and food.
  • 26A. [Blue fruit pies?] are AVATARTS. Avatar with its blue beings, plus tarts.
  • 40A. [Meat that everyone thinks is rotten but then it turns out to be some of the best barbecue ever?] clues BLIND SIDE OF BEEF. The movie The Blind Side partners with a side of beef. The Michael Oher character, like the stealthy barbecue of the clue, realizes his true potential.
  • 52A/66A. [Stuffed shells that were epically difficult to prepare?] clues A SERIOUS MANICOTTI, combining A Serious Man and manicotti. I don’t know much about the movie…checking Wikipedia…okay, this is the Coen Brothers film about a guy in Job-like circumstances, hence the “epically difficult” part of the clue.

Mystery name of the week: 50A: [Israeli modern artist Yaacov] AGAM. Moving back to Wikipedia, I learn that Agam specialized in optical and kinetic art. Cool stuff.

Freshest fill: 5D: BADASSES is clued as [Clint Eastwood and Mr. T., e.g.]. Yep, they qualify.

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31 Responses to Thursday, 3/4/10

  1. Jeffrey says:

    At the time I write this, all 8 names in the daily standing starts with an A or a J.

  2. Bruce S. says:

    Sorry that I was the one to ruin it Jeffrey.

  3. Howard B says:

    My first unfinished Fireball puzzle. (Yay!) You win this one, Peter ;)
    Fireball mini-spoiler ahead.
    almost there…
    LE ROUGE ET LE NOIR took a long time, but the ANNA WINTOUR / RAPINI cross was unparseable to me, I’ve never heard or seen either name, the clues were unknown to me, and I had TOUR already in. So I didn’t know if this was a name, a concert, or what. After seeing the completed grid, I still needed Google to explain. The crossing RAPINI was an equal question mark. never seen or heard of it, and I’ve eaten orecchiette.

    Fashion mag editors + gourmet food terms = unsolved puzzle here. Note: I’m not complaining about it – I like to learn. But I’m strangely comforted in a way when I learn that I didn’t miss a bit of wordplay or mess up a letter. There was just no possible way to solve this with my knowledge. That was an absolutely brutal cross here. Better luck next time.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    Yeah, with Howard times many. Stuff I don’t know crossing other stuff I don’t know equals unsolvable puzzle.

  5. SuperBowlXX says:

    I now kinda wish they put HOPETRAM in the Kahn puzzle. Not sure how I would clue that one, though. “Obama’s mine car?”

  6. Jim Finder says:

    Fireball 61A “gut course” is the part of the meal for growing the gut, DESSERT.

    I’m no tennis expert, but I’m wondering whether ON SERVE is really suggested by the “tiebreak” in the clue (60A). Tennis, anyone?

  7. David says:

    Can anyone explain 52D in the LAT: BDLE?

  8. sps says:

    Re: Fireball 60A and Jim F: Yes, that’s correct. If you and the person you’re playing have “held serve” (that is, won each of the games you served), then after twelve games the score would be 6-6 and you would indeed be heading to a tie break and, thus, you would be ON SERVE.

    Loved the Fireball today—the difficulty, the funny clues, the twists and turns. I, too, was thinking of a title with GEETLE. I had originally tried THE RED AND THE BLACK but it obviously didn’t fit. Thought it must be some obscure title I didn’t know.

  9. ArtLvr says:

    Probably “bundle”?

  10. ePeterso2 says:

    I think I liked EX-PATRIOT for exactly the reason Amy didn’t …

  11. joon says:

    i also crashed and burned on RAPINI. oddly, despite my ignorance of the fashion world, ANNA WINTOUR wasn’t the problem, once i had enough crossings; it was the P. i didn’t know TINSNIPS and had put in SEC for {Snap} instead of PIC, as in “in a snap.” still, RAPINI meant nothing to me, and neither did oriechette. the clue left me with a bad taste in my mouth, which did not improve after i looked up RAPINI because a) eww, and b) i never like it when a word i’ve never heard of is clued in such a way as to make me think i’m supposed to know it. {Bitter italian green} or something would have made me feel slightly better. i loved the rest of the puzzle, though. and in an odd coincidence, my time is exactly the same as amy’s (but with those two bad crossings).

  12. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Imagine my surprise last night when mere minutes after blogging the Fireball puzzle, I saw a TV commercial for “The September Issue.” Oh! A brand-new documentary? That explains why I didn’t piece the answer together sooner.

  13. Jan (danjan) says:

    Loved the Fireball – unlike others, the tricky corner for me was the upper left. Don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but if you open the Answers pdf that Peter sends along with the puzzle files, he gives explanations of some of the answers. I always learn something, even if I’ve solved cleanly. (The same is certainly true of reading this blog – thanks, Orange!)

  14. janie says:

    wow. i think this is the first (*maybe* second) time i’ve completed a fireball themeless w/out artificial intelligence. woo-hoo! letter-pattern recognition, a little logic, a lotta dredging up info from the recesses of the brain helped it come together. in nothing like a speed-solve time, mind you, but omma don’ care. got it done!

    enjoyed kahn’s nyt today, too — though this *was* one of my smoothest thursday solves. didn’t time it, but definitely completed it in less time than usual for the day of the week. loved the …GOALIE/”masked men…” combo. really vivid. even though i was onto the gimmick pretty early on, was still trying to make COSBY work where MAHER lives…


  15. edith b says:

    I agree with Amy that the Fireball was on the hard side but a couple of long neons helped me out considerably. I read an article about the documentary “The September Issue” and entered ANNAWINTOUR without crosses. Ditto for LEROUGEETLENOIR which was really a guess but it worked.

    I had to treat RAPINI like a miniature abstract word puzzle to solve it but good guesses held me in good stead today. I was truly on Mr Gordon’s wave length on this one.

  16. John Farmer says:

    Amy: I don’t know why “gut” is in the clue.
    Peter (in the PDF): If you eat a DESSERT course too often, you may develop a gut.

    I had the most trouble around the PATINI / TINSNIPS section too. I knew ANNAWINTOUR…though I misspelled it at first.

    Very enjoyable workout.

  17. joon says:

    oh, i forgot to mention: i loved david kahn’s NYT theme. and the clues were remarkably straightforward for a thursday. i think it was just some of the fill (OLAS, INTO YOU, EXON) and the offbeatness of the theme that pushed it into the thursday slot.

    dan naddor’s LAT theme was cool, too. i’ve seen it before, but the extra effort to have it wrap back to the top and include WORD CHAIN itself was brilliant.

  18. Mitchs says:

    Hat’s off to all you solvers of Fireball. I’ll have to Google ANNAWINTOUR. My puzzle was very spotty at the top third when I punted. Didn’t feel too bad, though, I could never have sussed out the clues I missed. Ignorant of too many of the clues/entries. But, as always, what a puzzle!

  19. John Farmer says:

    I wrote PATINI and meant to write RAPINI. Neither means anything to me…one reason I had trouble at that spot in the Fireball.

  20. Sara says:

    I wish I could get some comfort from failing where Howard did, but I actually know plenty about ANNA WINTOUR (by now you probably know that she’s the Devil who wears Prada, right?) and orecchiette and broccoli rabe/rape. Oh well! I loved the puzzle!

  21. Matt says:

    Oddly enough, this Fireball was the easiest so far for me. The first letter of “Forest part” was the last square I filled in, had to rummage through the vowels to get the answer.

  22. Alex says:

    I think Dan Feyer has a typo on his blog. It says the Fireball took him 4:26. That can’t be right.

    I finished it in about 20 minutes on paper (no errors, I think) and I’m awfully proud of that. It didn’t hurt that I filled in LE ROUGE ET LE NOIR without any crossings. Oh, and why do we call Pascal’s Triangle a triangle exactly? Looks to me like it only has one angle.

  23. Dan F says:

    I never make typos, Alez! RAPINI was vaguely familiar, and I thought I’d learned it from a puzzle but it’s not in the database. Never heard of TINSNIPS or TRENCHER, but Vogue‘s editor was a gimme. I was thinking ALAN Alda for the Oscar clue, but it turned out to be right…

  24. John Haber says:

    I liked the Times theme a lot, although I wish I hadn’t faced a crossing of EXON and INTO YOU.

  25. SethG says:

    Dan F, it was (briefly) mentioned in the comments here and at Rex’s when BROCCOLI RABE was in the puzzle.

    That you maybe remember that, whereas I cooked it two weeks ago, read about it while eating, and still forgot what it was called, probably says a lot about our respective abilities…

  26. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I just got back from dinner at an Italian/pizza place. Rapini shows up on the menu in a couple places. I sure don’t want to eat it, but it always makes me think of Hawthorne. (Because of the story “Rappaccini’s Daughter”…which makes me think of “I’m Not Rappaport.”)

  27. Yes, even to a political trivia junkie like me, James EXON is admittedly obscure for an NYT crossword puzzle. (He, like Ben Nelson, was a moderate Democrat who served as Nebraska governor before election to the Senate.) I’m guessing that WALLOP wouldn’t be pleasantly derived by solvers from a similar clue (former Wyoming senator Malcolm)…

    In the d’oh! department today, I confused LITTLE LAMB with Little Bo-Peep at first and wondered which square was the rebus…

  28. Jim Finder says:

    James EXON’s family owned an eponymous heating oil business, and the Standard Oil monopoly did a deal with them in the process of clearing their new name, Exxon.

  29. Badir says:

    As a mathematician, I’d like to point out that I paid for PASCAL’S TRIANGLE at 17A in the Fireball puzzle! I told Peter I wanted some grid-spanning math term, and I suggested a bunch of them, but I didn’t want to know which one he would use.

    Alas, I filled the grid (in Across Lite) in about half an hour, but spent another half hour or so fruitlessly trying to root out all my errors. In particular, like Howard, I was stuck looking for some sort of TOUR for 11D. I finally had to ask for my incorrect squares, and when I saw which three they were, I dredged ANNA WINTOUR out of my memory and finished the puzzle in about 30 seconds!

  30. Howard B says:

    Well, as much as ANNA WINTOUR detoured me, I loved seeing PASCAL’S TRIANGLE in there. Very good choice!
    Better with mathematical concepts and terms than fashion editors (which are the null set for me).

  31. Quentinc says:

    I’m way late in posting, but add me to the chorus of praise for the Fireball. It looked impossible for quite a while, but I finally muddled my way through.

    I’m with Jim Finder on ON SERVE though. You can be “on serve” in the first game of a set, can’t you? Or is the term “on serve” reserved for tie breakers when a players gets 2 serves and then serve switchs to the opponent?

    I would also like to defend the maligned RAPINI. It is quite delicious. Never heard of NAMASTE though.

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