Thursday, 3/18/10

Fireball 6:33
NYT 4:48
LAT 2:58—while Cruciverb is down you can get the AL puzzle at the Fiend forum
Tausig untimed
CS untimed

Daniel A. Finan’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 3Thursday’s the most common day for rebus puzzles, and this crossword combines a rebus gimmick with a connect-the-dots puzzle. The rebus entries represent EIGHTH NOTES (38-Across), or DO, RE, MI, FA, SOL, LA, TI, and DO again. If you start with the circled DO in the square numbered 58 and connect the other rebus squares in the DO, RE, MI… order, you draw what’s called a beamed pair of eighth notes (never heard that term before) that looks like this: ♫

The entries containing the notes are as follows:

  • First DO: 57A: CON{DO}/[Time-share unit] and 58D: {DO}ING/[Solving, as a puzzle].
  • RE: 65A: FLO{RE}NCE/[Renaissance cradle city] and 52D: ENT{RE}E/[Restaurant order].
  • MI: 62A: MULTI{MI}LLIONAIRE/[Doughbags] and 63D: {MI}CA/[Mineral in sheets]. I can’t say I’ve seen “doughbags” before. Looks an awful lot like “douchebags” at first glance.
  • FA: 20A: A {FA}VOR/[“Do me ___ and…”] and 6D: ARA{FA}T/[Mideast peace conference attendee, 1993. A FAVOR is a 6-letter partial…but hey, it only occupies 5 squares.
  • SOL: 16A: MAU{SOL}EUM/[Resting place for the deceased] and 11D: I{SOL}ATE/[Reverse of “bring together”].
  • LA: 56A: {LA}CTO/[Milk: Prefix] and 39D: EBO{LA}/[Fatal virus].
  • TI: 59A: GRA{TI}A/[Latin motto “Ars ___ artis”] and 55D: O{TI}OSE/[Lazy]. ARS GRATIA ARTIS GILMORE is 21 letters. You think there’s a Latin phrase/famous people mash-up theme out there?
  • And DO again: 47A: {DO}OMED/[Fated for ruin] and 31D: ESTA{DO}/[Michigan, e.g., to a Spaniard]. Remember those Michigan tourism ads from back in the day? “Say ‘si, si, SI!’ to Michigan!”

I like how FIVE-YARD PENALTY (17A: [False start’s result, in football]) sprawls across the grid as if it’s the cornerstone of the theme. I also like how the other long answers sprawl across the puzzle, though I could do without this clue for STRANGLES (35D: [Does in with a rope]). Is a traffic bottleneck not strangled enough for the crossword?

Most challenging clues:

  • 48D: [“Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” was published in this year] clues MCMIII, or 1903.
  • 24A: [“Resolved: that…,” for debaters] signals the TOPIC.
  • 42A: [Laborer’s suffix] is -IER, as in, uh, luthier, cashier, and bombardier. Other -ier vocations aren’t coming to mind.
  • 67A: [Last-column element on the periodic table] is a RARE GAS.
  • 1D: [Remy Martin units] are FIFTHS. What is Rémy Martin, anyway?
  • 7D: SERVO is a [Regulator mechanism, for short]. I know this from crosswords.
  • 8D: IMPRISONS is clued [Doesn’t let go?]. Oy! Right across from STRANGLES, too.
  • 10D: [Millet’s moon] is la LUNE. Millet’s a French painter, right?
  • 34D: SHERI is clued as [Fashionista ___ Moon Zombie]. Never heard of her.
  • 62A: MFR., short for “maunfacturer,” is clued by way of [Dow Chemical, e.g.: Abbr.].

Updated Thursday morning:

Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “So Self-Centered”—Janie’s review

“Ooh! Ooh!” “I know! I know!” Appealing to overachievers everywhere, Gail’s playful puzzle pulls together three phrases with a common bond: the last two letters of the first word are the same as the first two letters of the second. And that gives us, as we learn at 55D, “ME! ME!” [Attention getting cry found in 17-, 37-, and 58-Across]. (Not to be confused with meme…) If not literally “centered” in the grid, look at the pretty phrases that “attention getting cry” shows up in:

  • 17A. WELCOME MESSAGES [Greetings to new subscribers]. These are usually considerably longer than than the “HI’S” that [Short greetings] defines. These are messages that will be sent to your computer these days, whether you work on a PC or an IMAC [Apple variety] (a word we saw just three days ago). (Feel pretty dopey for not really noticing until now that a JPEG is specifically a [PC image format]. The Mac equivalent is the PNG file. Better late than…)
  • 37A. PRIME MERIDIAN [Geographical reference line]. Can’t tell you why, but I love this combination of words. Love ’em separately, too.
  • 58A. EXTREME MEASURES [Desperate steps]. Again, this strikes me as a very strong phrase. Must be that word extreme.

While the majority of the non-theme fill falls into the six-letters-and-under category, there’s quite a bit to enjoy overall. For starters, the meaty HOME RULE [Local self-government] and the gracefully clued ICE SKATE [Glide on blades]–which, I suppose, could be clued [Decks Hepburn] for ICES KATE. Or not…

Then we have the gender-balanced pair of GIRLS [Young ladies] and MEN [Fathers and grandfathers]. And there’s also “OH, BOY!” sharing its “Y” with TOY–if you see where I’m going with this… (Think Demi and Ashton if you need a hint–and no, their marriage changes nuthin’.)

The chatty/polite feel of both the fill and clues for “SURE CAN” [“Not a problem”] and “ONE SEC” [“Be right with ya”] is appealing in its authenticity. This is how we talk. Ditto the homespun DOC [Med school grad]. Cagier are the clues [Icky or itchy, e.g. (abbr.)] and [High rollers?] for ADJ (yes, it’s that parts-of-speech trick again) and SEMIS. Not gamblers, but trucks–aha!

Donna Levin’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 2This is a perfect Tuesday puzzle. Yes, Tuesday sometimes spills over for a couple extra days in the L.A. Times crossword, and when the puzzle’s as fresh and fun as this one, I don’t mind not having a tougher puzzle.

The theme entries feature K.I.S.S. (55D), clued as the [Popular version of a design principle acronym spelled out by the starts of this puzzle’s four longest answers]: “keep it simple, stupid.” Those words start each of the lively theme answers:

  • 20A: A [Park warning] sign may read KEEP OFF THE GRASS.
  • 25A: I’d never heard of this [1971 hit for Ringo], “IT DON’T COME EASY,” but it makes for an entertaining “phrase that starts with IT.”
  • 43A: [Bone injury in which the skin is intact] is a SIMPLE FRACTURE. It’s a compound fracture that breaks through the flesh.
  • 48A: [Regular Letterman show segment] is STUPID PET TRICKS, which is the highlight of this puzzle.

There were a couple cool pairings in the fill. [Relatives of odds] are ENDS (1A) and [Alternative to odds] clues EVENS (22D). [Former PLO chairman] YASIR / ARAFAT appears at 5D/32D. Other bits I liked:

  • 39A. [Galileo’s patron] looks like it wants, I dunno, the Medicis or Este or something. But it’s the Galileo space probe and NASA, not Renaissance Italy.
  • 63A. GENTS is a [Word that may appear above a silhouettte of a man]. Do you really want to use a public bathroom that uses the word GENTS?
  • 4D. To SKIP TOWN is to [Take a powder], so to speak. Great entry.
  • 30D. I’ve seen [Back biter?] as a clue for MOLAR before but it still managed to dupe me this time.

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword #11, “Themeless 9”

Region capture 5I was surprised when the Across Lite happy pencil popped up after I filled in the last square, because a couple entries were wildly unfamiliar and not inferrable. Those two are:

  • 24A. [Future bunk leader, for short] = CIT. Peter’s answer sheet elaborates that this stands for “counselor in training.” What is this, summer camp or the military or what? Pfft.
  • 47D. [Legendary Inca dynasty founder Manco ___] is CAPAC. Now, I knew there was an old Inca leader named Tupac thanks to one of Matt Gaffney’s brilliant puzzles last year, but TUPAC didn’t fit here. I had to do the Roman numeral math at 47A: [604% of XXV]—let’s see, that’s about 6 x 25, or 150, so the first letter is C.

I also had to lean on the crossings for pretty much all of 1-Across. Actress MICHELLE MEYRINK? Never heard of her. I had DNA instead of RNA at 12D for awhile, but MEYRINK sounded more plausible than MEYDINK. All right, which one of you paid Peter to put MICHELLE MEYRINK at 1-Across? Hmph.

The two triple stacks of 15s and the central 15 contain fill I don’t remember seeing before, so bonus points for newness. Other comments:

  • I learned from @EditorMark on Twitter that the Brits say “ta” for “thanks.” He was promulgating it as a Twitter-friendly word, but I still kept thinking he was saying “ta ta.” 26A: [Grateful Brits’ words] clues TAS. Tough clue.
  • 27A. [A large amount] clues SLATHERS. Have never encountered this usage.
  • 64A. Great clue: [Where bills never get passed?] is a CASHLESS SOCIETY.
  • 3D. Look, here’s [Laugher] again, this time as a clue. It means an easy win or CAKEWALK in sports.
  • 14D. [What florisugent birds feed on] is NECTAR. Flori = flower, sugent = sucking.
  • 44D. [Kitchen counters?] are TIMERS.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Double A’s”

Region capture 6This theme is a little hard to wrap your head around: Familiar phrases with two long-E sounds morph into made-up phrases with two long-A sounds. Like this:

  • 18A. “Greensleeves” becomes GRAIN SLAVES, or [“People dependent on barley?]. I’m more of a wheat slave.
  • 28A. Steering wheel turns into STARING WHALE, or [Sea World creature who seems to be really fixated on something?]. Don’t trust the killer whale, people.
  • 45A. [Get married, then get on your partner’s nerves?] clues MATE AND GRATE, playing on meet and greet.
  • 57A. [Wear an Arthur Ashe shirt to a Ku Klux Klan rally?] clues BAIT THE HATE (beat the heat). Jay-Z designed such a shirt for the U.S. Open last year.


  • The sextet of 9-letter answers that adorn the corners of the grid. 3D: KING JAMES is [LeBron, to fans]. (For real royalty, there’s CHARLES I, the [Great Carolingian king, on regnal lists].) 34D: MCMANSION is clued with [Garage Mahal]. And the delicious, peanutty 36D: SATE SAUCE is a [Skewered meat flavoring].
  • 4A. [What you might be asked to keep a secret on] is THE QT. “On the QT” means “secretly, stealthily,” and the QT part is an abbreviation for “quiet.”
  • 31A. Interesting clue for HIM: [Pronoun not used for god in “The Inclusive Bible”].
  • 49A. SIDIBE! WIth alternating vowels and consonants, look for [Oscar nominee Gabourey]’s last name to appear in more crosswords.
  • 66A. SPANO is clued as [Jessie who was A.C. Slater’s girl] on Saved by the  Bell. I like this because I saw a picture in Entertainment Weekly of Mark-Paul Gosselaar on Jimmy Fallon’s show. Gosselaar opted to come on in full Zack regalia. See for yourself in this video clip.
  • 30D. “HELL, NO!” [“Not a goddamn chance”].
  • 51D. [Clear, as a cold nose?] refers to the nose of an aircraft, not a sniffling person: DEICE.
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22 Responses to Thursday, 3/18/10

  1. Jeffrey says:

    Every clue starts with a note as well. TIjuana dishes, RElegated…, MIddle… etc.

  2. Howard B says:

    Solve time is deceiving in the Times app – it couldn’t accept without the middle square completed, and I had to guess for a long time at what it wanted (notepad didn’t display instructions properly in my browser). So I came here to figure out the additional theme levels. Thanks, that’s amazing!

  3. Art Shapiro says:

    Rémy Martin is one of the better brandies out there, if you can tolerate that firewater. Folks speak highly of that company’s VSOP product.


  4. ePeterso2 says:

    Mrs. eP is a music teacher, so I knew enough to figure out the theme entry and what the image would be from the notepad before I entered any letters in the grid.

    The clues are the part that impress me the most about this puzzle – that’s a lot of work to make the clues fit the pattern and yet flow smoothly!

    I did get stuck in the south … didn’t know GRATIA or WAITZ or SHERI.

    Having both CTRL and ESC in the grid with the same clue bothered me a little bit. I got ESC first and expected CTRL to be some alternate meaning of [Laptop key], not just another key. Maybe there’s precedent for this, tho …

    Well done. I enjoyed this puzzle.

  5. John Reid says:

    @Jeffrey – Thanks for pointing out the pattern in the clues. I hadn’t noticed that before. It’s very impressive!

  6. joon says:

    françois millet is indeed a french painter. not to be confused with john everett millais, an english painter, or edna st vincent millay, a poet.

    maybe i’m getting curmudgeonly, but this is the second day in a row i’ve been disappointed by the fill. to be sure, there’s a lot going on here themewise, and i definitely liked the theme. but all the suffixes and prefixes, long partials, and a ton of abbreviations… i dunno. the answers with 7+ letters are mostly nice, and some are terrific. but maybe it’s too ambitious if the price we pay is -IER, -IDE, MCMIII, TOYA, ANAS, ENER/GRE/ESC crossing REC, ET AL.

    the part about all the clues starting with a note is curious. do you think the constructor included that as part of the original theme, or will added it? either way, it seems odd; the rebus and picture definitely qualify as “enough” theme, and the clue thing doesn’t add much either during or after the solve. and it doesn’t strike me as being that difficult to manage, although it does lead to some oddly-worded clues like HGTS and MCMIII.

  7. LARRY says:

    Neither Remy-Martin nor any other hard liquor has been bottled in FIFTHS for decades – a “fifth” being a “fifth of a gallon”, or 25.6 oz. The newer and present bottling unit is 750 milliliters, a slightly different volume. I suppose some people still refer to fifths, however.

    The tip about the first two letters of each clue providing an additional hint was contained in the Notepad note in the AcrossLite version. I noticed that this note was not complete in the applet version.

  8. Gareth says:

    Have seen puzzles with these notes before… But the drawing a note gimmmick is really cool! Though couldn’t visualize properly in AL!

    Really like MULTIMILLIONAIRES as an entry, but haven’t heard of the clue “Doughbags”, “Money bags” definitely!

    Took about 6 min to twig to rebus, and not sure why as had already met ARAFAT, LACTO, and CONDO which didn’t seem to want to fit properly!

    Lots of death, violence and disease! MAUSOLEUM, STRANGLES (why not the horse disease and be done with it?), EBOLA, DOOMED, and STAB (hopefully directed at DRACULA!)

    Wazzat the clues are notes too? That’s certainly adding an awful to the toughness of making the puzzle, but it does feel rather extraneous?

  9. Carol says:

    Anyone know what happened this time to

  10. Anne E says:

    Howard, I didn’t believe the 7:04 when I saw it. Want to say what your real time was?

    Anne the benchmarking spreadsheet-er

  11. HH says:

    “MULTI{MI}LLIONAIRE/[Doughbags] …. I can’t say I’ve seen “doughbags” before. Looks an awful lot like “douchebags” at first glance.”

    An equally accurate clue, I daresay.

  12. Barry G says:

    Man, I thought I was so smart figuring out the theme early on and confidently putting in EDUCA{TI}ON for 38D. Took me awhile to recover from that one…

  13. janie says:

    finan’s puzzle was a smile-evoking solve for me. then wow! the clue-thang bumps it up several levels of clever. really somethin’ to sing about!


  14. Amy Reynaldo says:

    The applet’s Notepad cut off after “The resulting image will be a pair of 38-Across (WITH t” so I didn’t get the hint about the clues…but I should have noticed because the clues felt weird, the way they usually do when the theme extends to the beginning of the clues. “[Refer to blurb]” rather than “[See blurb],” for instance. D’oh!

  15. Howard B says:

    Anne, I don’t usually post times, but I did here, from what I remembered, when I posted with a correct grid except for an incorrect middle letter.

    I really liked the ambitiousness of the theme, the visual, and the hidden clue bonus!
    Now I see why some of the clues had that odd quirkiness to them.

  16. Doug P. says:

    I think Ms. Meyrink herself must have paid Peter to get her name in the puzzle. She hasn’t appeared in a movie since 1988!

  17. Anne E says:

    Thanks Howard… that makes a lot more sense! Most kind of you.

  18. John Haber says:

    I’m pretty sure everyone still calls a bottle a fifth, despite roundoff error introduced by metric. It’s indeed a pretty prestigious and well-known brand. Amy’s almost certainly also seen a painting by Millet, one sentimental view or another of the French countryside and peasant labor.

    His most famous is probably “A Man with a Hoe,” in which the man leaning on a hoe looks a bit more dumb or demented than tired. My father used to use it as a code word for idiot when he worked with his brother. One would say to another as certain patients arrived, here comes the man with a hoe.

    Joon has a point about boring suffixes. I didn’t look at the notepad, so I must admit I really didn’t get the theme. That is, I didn’t understand why just one theme entry was circled and most of the others found asymmetrically in the bottom half. Or why the first two letters in the puzzle could also be FA. Clever, although I must admit I don’t know the term “beamed” either, and I thought I could read music.

  19. Quentinc says:

    In case anyone is still reading a day later, in the FB, why is SHOES the answer to [Holder of many cards]?

    I hope whoever requested Michelle May ( or may not) Dink had to pay double. Sheesh.
    OK, I just read Peter’s answers. I still find SHOES unnecessarily obscure.

  20. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Quentin, that was one of the answers Peter explained on the answer page. Apparently a SHOE is a box of some sort that holds playing cards at a casino.

  21. Matt Gaffney says:

    HH above, are you who I think you are?

  22. Alex says:

    Yes he is, Matt. (if you’re thinking of a guy you interviewed for “Gridlock”)

Comments are closed.