Wednesday, 3/17/10

Onion 4:48
NYT 3:53
BEQ 3:19
LAT 2:56
CS untimed

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Join me in eschewing all unnaturally green food, won’t you? Vegetables and limes are OK, but aside from those? No green comestibles!

Patrick Merrell’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 6Leave it to Patrick Merrell to make use of the way “Patrick” splits into PA and TRICK. Today, he’s playing an ST<-PA TRICK, with theme entries originally containing a PA getting an ST instead:

  • 17A. [Twine cutter?] clues STRING KNIFE, with a letter-pair change from paring knife.
  • 24A. [OPEC production cutback?] clues OIL STINTING (oil painting).
  • 50A. [Pen for a pet pig?] is a TAKE-HOME STY (take-home pay).
  • 60A. [Ice hockey in prison?] clues STIR SKATING (pair skating). I thought the term was “pairs skating,” which out-Googles “pair skating,” but the International Skating Union uses “pair skating.”
  • 37A. Tying it all together is ST. PATRICK, a [March figure…or, when split into three parts, a title for this puzzle].

It took me a good long while to see what was happening in the theme entries. Had the ST. PATRICK part right away, but the ST/PA switch didn’t dawn on me so quickly. A little on the tough side for a Wednesday, no? (But still shy of Thursday rigor.)

Without further ado, because daylight saving time is having a paradoxical effect on me and making me sleepy earlier in the evening, a dozen clues:

  • 1A. ABSCAM is the [U.S. political scandal involving a fictional sheik]. This was somewhere around 1980.
  • 7A. ÉPÉE is a [Sport whose name has two accents]. I was really tempted to put PELE here. I cannot explain why.
  • 20A. THE LINE is clued as [Words after cross, down or over]. Seven-letter partial, anyone?
  • 39A. Eww! [Buzzer in the kitchen, maybe] is not an oven timer or a hand mixer. It’s a HOUSEFLY. (One of about 25 fill answers with 6+ letters.)
  • 42A. [Onetime South African P.M. Jan] SMUTS has a name custom-made for politics, doesn’t he?
  • 2D. [Shower room sight] clues a BATH MAT. I dunno, I picture bath mats as part of regular household bathrooms. Shower rooms are, what, the shower areas off locker rooms? Do they usually have bath mats?
  • 4D. [Stamp purchase] is a COIL. I haven’t seen a coil of stamps in over a decade.
  • 9D. EX-F.B.I. is clued with [Like some private dets.]. “Dets.” looks weird.
  • 36D. [RKO film airer, maybe] is TCM, or Turner Classic Movies.
  • 39D. [Came out of one’s shell], literally, means HATCHED. Cute!
  • 44D. [End of life as we know it?] clues the SILENT E at the end of “life.”
  • 52D. [Quarterfinals qualifiers, e.g.] are an OCTET, four pairs of players. You don’t see a lot of Q-alliteration clues.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Going Double Green”—Janie’s review

Yes, it’s that day when, for better or worse, ev‘ryone’s Irish… Lynn pays tribute to the Emerald Island by giving us five compound words and two-word phrases, both parts of which may also be preceded by the word green. Whence the “double green” of the title. (I confess, however, this has put me in mind of The New Christy Minstrels and “Green, Green“. This clip is from, um, “Hootenanny,” circa 1963…) Okay–the puzzle!

  • 17A. [Sailor’s navigational aid] LIGHTHOUSE → green light (not only a traffic signal, but movie-speak for “thumbs up”) and greenhouse. (Of course the [Key feature of 17-Across] is its LAMP.)
  • 11D. [Savanna or prairie] GRASSLAND → green grass and Greenland–which is one of the least conventionally inviting-looking places, even with that lovely name. (Iceland, on the other hand, whose name practically screams, “Go away, it’s cold here!” is a breathtaking piece of somewhat primordial heaven. Imoo.)
  • 39A. [Place to order a crumpet, perhaps] TEAROOM → green tea (get yer antioxidants here!) and green room, which is a term with theatrical roots.
  • 35D. [Gathering with kings and queens?] CARD PARTY→ green card and Green Party. Won’t say nuthin’ about my preference for the Green Party over the Tea Party… Then again, the Green Party’s proven itself to be a bit of spoiler, too… Before I fully understood the theme, btw, I thought I was so clever for thinking the correct fill would be CHESS GAME. Dream on, Jane.
  • 61A. [Columbia tributary that forms part of the Idaho-Oregon border] SNAKE RIVER → green snake and Green River (there are lots of ’em, so I wonder if Lynn had a particular one in mind…).

The non-theme fill and clues I liked best would have to include:

  • COIN-BOX [Receptacle in a vending machine]
  • OIL WELL [Black gold gusher]. Reminds me that we recently saw another great oil descriptor (in an NYT puzzle), where it appeared in the grid as Texas tea. Do we have a great language or what?
  • The head-scratchin’ pair of FOOL [Hoodwink] and HOG-TIE [Stymie]. See comment above for my take on colorful expressions. I particularly like the way hog-tie shares its “G” with HOT DOG [Ballpark snack].
  • The “capital” geography grouping of ANKARA [Capital whose country bridges Europe and Asia] (and that would be Turkey), RWANDA [Its capital is Kigali] and [One-time Yukon capital,] DAWSON [City].
  • ALAMO clued as [Memorable mission], which references the phrase “Remember the Alamo,” and which also (as I read it) uses the word “mission” not in the sense of “cause,” but more subtly, referring to the building itself.
  • REESE, who gets clued today as [“Little” Dodgers Hall of Famer], because that’s “Pee Wee” Reese, whose nickname actually refers to his marble-playing days in Kentucky!

Mike Peluso’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 5THEME: “Foreplay”—The last word of the five starred answers can follow FORE.

Theme entries:

  • 17A: [*”Unbelievable!”] (“OUTTA SIGHT!”). Retro slanginess! Foresight is the resulting thematic word.
  • 25A: [*Knitting aid, in a way] (PLASTER CAST). You wear a cast to immobilize a fracture while the bones knit themselves back together. The cast in a forecast is entirely different in meaning.
  • 37A: [*Office component] (MICROSOFT WORD). My favorite new Word toy is changing the case with shift-F3 when editing a manuscript. Not a new feature, but one I only learned a few months ago. The foreword appears at the beginning of a book and is decidedly not a “forward.”
  • 52A: [*Legendary archer] (WILLIAM TELL). Foretell. You like Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” even when it’s removed from a “Lone Ranger” setting, don’t you?
  • 61A: [*Cartoon beeper (ROAD RUNNER). Meep-meep! Forerunner.
  • 71A: [Links warning, and a prefix with the second word of the answers to starred clues] (FORE). Speaking of the links and golf, I hear Tiger Woods will play the Masters in April. We’ll see if he still has that preternatural ability to focus on his game.

With 19 non-theme answers of 6 to 8 letters, this is a meaty puzzle. I especially like those corners with 4×6 blocks of fill intersecting theme entries.

Discussion points from the rest of the fill:

  • 10A: [Part of C.W. Post: Abbr.] (INIT.). Were you worried we were being quizzed on what the C. and W. are short for? Thankfully not.
  • 14A: [BCS org.] (NCAA). Hey, we’ve moved on from college football, people. It’s time for March Madness! The big basketball tournament starts tomorrow, so if you haven’t filled out your bracket yet, get cracking!
  • 20A: [What you can’t have success without?] (ESSES). As in “multiples of the letter S.”
  • 43A: [Like angry bees] (ASWARM). I want each of you to use this word in conversation today. I plan to apply the word to the hordes of schoolchildren leaving the building after school tomorrow. Seriously, there are about 1,500 students at my son’s school. SWARMS OF CHILDREN, people. SWARMS.
  • 45A: [Highway with a terminus at Dawson Creek, British Columbia] (ALCAN). Dawson’s Creek took place in the Carolinas.
  • 58A: [Japanese-American] (NISEI). Nisei refers to one born in North America to parents who immigrated from Japan. Issei is an immigrant from Japan. Sansei (now, I’ve never seen this one in a crossword) is someone born here with grandparents who immigrated. When I see a clue like this, I fill in **SEI and wait for the crossings to tell me if I need NISEI or ISSEI.
  • 60A: [Almond __: crunchy candy] (ROCA). Yum! I love Almond Roca. NYT constructor Matt Ginsberg’s wife sometimes makes a big batch of roca before the ACPT, and I can’t get enough of it. (Literally. Matt shares it with so many people that I only get a little bit.) Crunchy toffee coated with chocolate, plus almonds? That’s a winner right there.
  • 3D: [Wakeboard relative] (WATERSKI). Cool answer, that.
  • 29D: [Cold War agcy.] (AEC). That’s the Atomic Energy Commission, I believe. Superseded by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Erin Go Bar”

Region capture 7The theme is Irish libations one might ingest on St. Patrick’s Day—IRISH COFFEE, GUINNESS Stout, GREEN BEER, and JAMESON’S Irish whiskey—and the BAD HANGOVER that might result from having all four.

Lots of 6- and 7-letter answers in the fill, with some lovely ones like EUROPOP, ORIGAMI, and XMRADIO.

Brendan said this one was really easy. It hit at Wednesday level for me, though, and not Monday/Tuesday. Dan Feyer solved it in 1:46, so I guess it was really easy for him. Where did this one hit for you? The oddball cross-reference at 1-Across and a general inability to type correctly slowed me down.

Brendan Quigley’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Region capture 8The five theme entry spaces are filled with four betrayal-related puns:

  • 17A. Steely Dan, who recorded “Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number,” turn into STOOLIE DAN, [Band who sang “Rikki, Give the Cops That Number”].
  • 24A/36A. “Whistling Dixie” means wasting one’s time, dwelling on unrealistic hopes. “YOU AIN’T JUST / QUISLING DIXIE” inserts a noun meaning “traitor,” but the surface sense isn’t there. Quisling is a noun, not a verb, so what the heck would a “quisling Dixie” be? The clue is [With 36-Across, “So true, Brutus!”?]. Is there some Brutus/Dixie nexus I don’t know about?
  • 49A. [Grocery store that sells national secrets?] is TRAITOR JOE’S. I love this one. The best part? Those national secrets come at a good price and without additives. (Trader Joe’s, of course, is the base phrase here.)
  • 59A. “Think it over” becomes FINK IT OVER, or [Contemplate how to turn in a friend?].

And now, some clues:

  • 1D. C.P. SNOW is a name I encounter mainly in crosswords, and no, [“Strangers and Brothers” author] didn’t shout his name to me.
  • 4D. What’s Spanish for “whoops”? The clue for RIOS is [Salado, Panuco, and Tuxpan, por ejamplo], but “por ejemplo” is Spanish for “for example.” I have never heard of any of these rivers.
  • Islands all over the place—An ISL. is 5D: [Inset feature: Abbr.], and the French ILES are 38D: [Pieces of land on 18-Down], 18D being EAU. Are islands on or in the water?
  • 9D. [__ Levenson (vixen on “The Office”)] clues JAN. Should be Levinson, with an I. I wouldn’t call that character a vixen at all.
  • 31D. PLANO is the [Texas city where Frito-Lay is based]. My favorite Frito-Lay product is Fritos. You know why? They contain corn, corn oil, and salt. That’s it. No MSG, no artificial flavors and colors, no “whey protein,” no nothing. I feel almost virtuous when eating Fritos, I tell ya.
  • 58A. Diana RIGG, I’ve heard of. [Daniel ___ (S.W.A.T. officer in the “Saw” series)], not so much.
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12 Responses to Wednesday, 3/17/10

  1. Deb Amlen says:

    I thought this was a really cool theme, and yes, I had to stare at it for a while before I realized what was happening.

    Nice job, Patrick, and way to write yourself into the grid! :)

  2. joon says:

    i liked the theme well enough, but i was quite surprised to see two prefixes and three suffixes, a seven-letter partial, a variant spelling, and a fistful of abbreviations (some awkwardly plural) in the fill.

  3. ArtLvr says:

    Begorra, it’s a beaut! The time change is tricking my brain too, as I finished and stared at the odd theme answers — thinking “uh oh, anagrams”. No way I could do those! LOL

    Is Patrick going to do an April Fool’s Day tour de force as well? I hope so…

  4. John Haber says:

    I liked the theme, too. Funny, but I don’t remember our calling them coils rather than rolls of stamps, but maybe it was just us.

  5. ePeterso2 says:

    PairS skating usually takes place during daylight savingS time.

    An EGG TIMER is also not a [Buzzer in the kitchen].

    The USPS term for the roll of 100 stamps is still COIL (I bought two recently).

  6. Jeffrey says:

    I also thought PELE and don’t know why. I found the NYT very odd, spinning my wheels for no reason I can discern.

    Are CW POST and CP SNOW related?

    For 1D on the CS, I instantly put IRISH. My WELSH boss will not be pleased. Please don’t tell her.

    Did the BEQ in 3:54, so yes on easy.

  7. Jan (danjan) says:

    I grew up near CW Post college (now part of Long Island U), and didn’t know that CW stands for Charles William, but I do know that his daughter’s first two names are Marjorie Merriweather. She and her husband, Edward F. Hutton bought the estate that is now the college, and their daughter (the actress Dina Merrill) had an awesome playhouse as a child, a two-story stone and timbered “cottage”.
    Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone!

  8. joon says:

    i found the BEQ to be easium and i told him so. it looks like he didn’t change any of the clues that gave me trouble, including the inexplicable MEOW/DOG cross-reference, the COFFEE/coffeeshop duplication, or the two with minor errors. so i’ll record my time (3:00). the problem with BEQ-easy is that he has conflicting goals of making it monday-easy (he wanted people to solve it in 2 minutes… good thing there’s dan, although usually dan’s monday times are faster still) and wanting new, fresh clues. the clue for FIENNES, for example, was nice and contemporary … but it certainly didn’t help me as much as a clue like {Voldemort portrayer of film} or {Joe of “Shakespeare in Love”}. the VJS clue was interesting in retrospect but utterly unsolvable. i didn’t know this ANN or this STU, either.

    all in all, i think i’d rather have the freshness than the easiness. but it’s slightly annoying to be told, “you should be doing this one as fast as a monday” when there’s no way that can happen. the only way for a BEQ puzzle to be truly easy is for somebody other than BEQ to have final editorial power over it.

  9. John Farmer says:

    Interesting how an extra “s” is often added to “pair skating” and “daylight saving time.” “Pair skating” and “pairs skating” sound the same when spoken, so it’s understandable how the official (International Skating Union) term can have that extra “s” in the vernacular. “Daylight savings” is commonly used, probably borrowing from the idea of “savings accounts,” though the official term is “saving” without the final “s.”

    The puzzle got it right using “pair” and Amy got it right with “saving.” I suppose if you want to correct them (if that’s what it is, or is it just a tongue-in-cheek comment?), you may first want to look it up.

    I didn’t know about pair skating before today, but I did know about daylight saving time, which I had to look up not so long ago also.

  10. Mel Park says:

    Oh, buy a COIL of stamps Amy. They now contain 50 instead of a 100 stamps, so as not to break the bank, and they are of commemorative-stamp aspect, i.e. about 1:2. Currently they have a state flags theme and they are very pretty!

  11. ArtLvr says:

    re: the BEQ puzzle’s title, “Erin Go Bar” — After imbibing that combo of quaffs, it would more likely be Erin go barf… Otherwise, a tip of the hat to O’Quigley!

  12. Wow, it’s fun to look back at this old crossword. I thought the theme was cool :)

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