Wednesday, 4/14/10

Onion 5:49 (Black Ink)
BEQ 5:28 (Black Ink)
NYT 5:12 (Jeffrey)/3:43 (Amy)
LAT 3:15 (Black Ink)
CS untimed

Shhh!!! Amy’s sleeping. This is Jeffrey, sort of awake on Pacific Daylight Time, filling in.

nyt apr 14 10-b
Today’s New York Times puzzle is by Jonah Kagan. The theme answers hide the word HEART, anagramming by shifting one letter at a time until it becomes EARTH. An added touch is the progression works from the upper right to the lower left of the grid.

Theme answers:
23A. [What children should be, so the saying goes] – SEEN BUT NOT HEARD
35A. [Home of the Ivy League] – NORTHEAST
52A. [It’s a relief in Athens] – PARTHENON FRIEZE. This was tricky.
59A. [Likely to change everything] – EARTH SHATTERING

Pretty cool spin on the old hidden word trick.
Quickly, other stuff of note:
10A. [Big Apple neighborhood west of the East Village] – NOHO. I always want to put SOHO.
14A. [English novelist Canetti who wrote “Crowds and Power”] – ELIAS. Didn’t know this ELIAS.
20A. [Actress Thompson] – EMMA. Sometimes it is Sada.
21A. [When la Tour Eiffel lights up] – NUIT. Night in French.
22A. [Rock band with a lightning bolt in its logo] – AC/DC
34A. [What Justin Timberlake’s “bringin’ back,” in a song] – SEXY
51A. [___ Mustard] – COL. No indication of an abbreviation.
56A. [Princess with a blaster] – LEIA. Star Wars!
62A. [Baseball’s Moises] – ALOU. Expos!
64A. [Oscar-winning “Tootsie” actress] – LANGE
8D. [In direct competition] – TOE TO TOE. Could be eye to eye, but not cheek to cheek.
9D. [Google moneymakers] – ADS. Twitter wants to start having ADS. You have to make money somehow.
12D. [Receptacle for Voldemort’s soul in Harry Potter] – HORCRUX. I knew it because I’ve read the books. If you haven’t, good luck.
13D. [Que. neighbor] – ONT. Highway 20 in Quebec becomes Highway 401 in Ontario when driving from Montreal to Toronto.
25D. [Fey of “30 Rock”] – TINA/26D. [Susan of “L.A. Law”] – DEY. A Fey/Dey combo.

Amy here: Who the heck abbreviates COL. Mustard? Don’t you know that if you drop a lozenge down your throat, you’ll choke? Is it almost unfair to have [“…that’s ___!”] clueing WHO when WHY seems more likely and leads to the [Palindromic exclamation] YAY, which mucks things up? Also, [Player/preyer] for ROUE is kind of gross. It’s cool to see NEAR TO ONE’S HEART two days in a row—it was in yesterday’s L.A. Times puzzle too.

Jeffrey, have you got big plans for Fey Dey? I always go to the parade.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Jacks to Open”—Janie’s review

There is some wonderful theme fill in this grid, but I’m not convinced that the title “Jacks to Open” is this puzzle’s friend. My first thought, of course, was “poker theme” followed by, “the word ‘jack’ will be able to precede the first word of the theme phrase, or perhaps even the phrase as a whole.” Wrong on both counts (though I was frankly relieved it wasn’t the first…). The word “jack” does factor in, but it follows the first word of the theme phrase. Yes, it “opens” the space between the compound-word theme fill, but that seems a long way to go to make the title apt. That said, I’ll repeat: the theme phrases are peppy and so are the four “jack” phrases that are summoned up. The guilty parties are:

  • 17A. FLAPDOODLE [Nonsense]. Great word, no? That gives us a tasty griddlecake or flapjack.
  • 10D. BLACK BEAUTY [Anna Sewell book about a horse], which gives us the gambling game blackjack.
  • 24D. UNION BUSTER [Scab, for one], for Union Jack (or the British flag).
  • 55A. LUMBER YARD [Wood shop] gives us lumber jack. Ah, nothing like the Monty Python take on “I’m a Lumber Jack and I’m Okay!”

If the title doesn’t quite land, the theme does and so does the non-theme fill. Randy acknowledges the New York theatre scene with BOFF [Hit on Broadway], FLOP [Bomb on Broadway] and OBIE [Village Voice award]. In case you didn’t know, Obie = O-B = Off-Broadway. Boff is a word I just met up with in one of Bob Klahn’s puzzles in his puzzle book, The Wrath of Klahn. “Boffo” I knew; boff was new.

A [Performer at the Met] may be a DIVA. And she may be singing in AIDA, a [Verdi opera]. You know–it’s the one sung in Italian and set in Egypt, the real home of SADAT [One-time Egyptian leader Anwar].

Egypt is also on one side of the RED SEA, the deftly clued [It had a major part in the Bible?]. Also from the OT we get EDEN [Paradise of Genesis], and then from the New Testament, ACTS [Follower of the Gospels] (so this “follower” is a book and not an individual).

If something goes wrong on the EBAY site, that [Cybershopping destination] you can be sure they’ll call a TECHIE [One who might use a mouse to get rid of a bug?] to correct the problem.

Only repeat today was UNIT, which appeared just yesterday. New clue though, thank you very much. And thank you very much for the assonant cluster at center: ACROBATS, ALAI, ALIAS, AVILA, AVERS and ALAN ALDA. All works fer me!

Gary Steinmehl’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 4THEME: “Wash Your Bits”—Four phrases and a word end with brands of soap. The first theme entries I ran into in this puzzle began with GOLD and EBONY, so I started out thinking the theme had something to do with, I dunno, expensive things. 68-Across straightened me out pretty quickly, though.

Theme entries:

  • 16A: [Ingredient in some glazed chicken wings] ORANGE ZEST. Who doesn’t like a reference to ORANGE?
  • 30A: [Dashboard tuner] (RADIO DIAL). This one is pretty flat. Most dials are round, but the typical radio’s doodad is linear. Also, not sure “radio dial” quite meets the standards for crossword-worthy phrases.
  • 37A: [1982 McCartney/Wonder hit] (EBONY AND IVORY).
  • 44A: [It became Ghana in 1957] (GOLD COAST). The country called Ivory Coast uses its French name, Cote d’Ivoire. Also, Chicago’s got a Gold Coast. No gold mines, but plenty of wealth all the same.
  • 62A: One of two in a Christmas song (TURTLEDOVE). Nice use of a humorous quote to enhance the theme-revealing answer.
  • 68A: This puzzle’s theme (SOAP). Zest, Dial, Ivory, Coast, and Dove are all brands of soap or, if you believe marketers, moisturizing bars.

The theme is nothing new—I’ve seen at least two previous soap themes. There might’ve also been a laundry detergent theme. But these are readily accessible to most solvers thanks to the über-familiarity of such brand names, so editors don’t mind when constructors draw from that well again.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “No Kidding”

Region capture 5When I saw RUBBER and PULL OUT at the beginning of two theme entries and saw that the final theme answer ending with -TION summed up the rest, I wanted to fit something-CONTRACEPTION into 61A. Alas, it would not work. You’ve heard of the EQUAL PROTECTION clause, and Brendan asserts that a RUBBER, the PILL, the PULL OUT method, and the contraceptive SPONGE do not offer EQUAL PROTECTION. Geeze, I guess Brendan couldn’t find a good phrase that began with IUD.

PULL OUT THE STOPS sounds incomplete to me. “Pull out all the stops” gets almost 10 times the Google hits, but “pull out the stops” still manages 200,000 so I guess people use it.

Favorite things:

  • 1A. [Maker of a certain hole: Abbr.] clues CFC. That hole’s in the ozone layer.
  • 3D. [Ignoring it might lead to disconnection] refers to your CABLE BILL.

Byron Walden’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Region capture 6Nobody likes those playground retorts except constructors, right? I plunked down ARE NOT for 48D: [Playground surrebuttal] instead of ARE TOO, and then paid no mind to the way that mucked up one theme entry and the theme revealer. D’oh! Each made-up theme answer has an embedded TOYOTA that’s “recalled,” or spelled backwards. This week brought the news that Consumer Reports identified a rollover risk for a Lexus SUV (made by Toyota), and you could also say that the hidden cars have been subject to rollover, the way they’ve been flipped in the grid…except that the real-life Toyota recalls were about acceleration and not rollovers.

The theme:

  • 17A. [*People really into golf scores?] are LEADERBOARD NUTS, with a backwards Tundra.
  • 26A. [*Wind-making equipment?] clues ZEPHYR MACHINERY, with the Camry.
  • 32A. [*Putting a mickey in someone’s potion?] clues ELIXIR TAMPERING (Matrix).
  • 42A. [*1960s kitsch decor item owned by Tony and Carmela?] is SOPRANO LAVA LAMP (Avalon).
  • 57A. [*Where you can order a commemorative Bowie Knife?] is THE ALAMO CATALOG (Tacoma).
  • 7D. [*Music in an updated version of “Pagliacci”?] is LEONCAVALLO ROCK (Corolla).
  • 65A. [Make of six models that are subject to recall … and being sent back inside this puzzle’s theme entries] is TOYOTA.

You know what’s insane? Byron put in five 15-letter Across theme answers, added a sixth that crossed them all, and still found room for the unifying TOYOTA. That’s 91 theme squares in a symmetrical 15×15 grid, people. “Surely the rest of the fill suffers,” you say. But no. Nineteen fill answers are 6 or 8 letters long, and while there are some high-vowel repeaters (OLEO, ESAI, AGRA, RIVA Ridge), this fill is mostly smooth as glass and sometimes fresh (I’M A CELEB, SHOX). Well done, Byron.

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16 Responses to Wednesday, 4/14/10

  1. pezibc says:

    Crapped out on the P in PARTHENON. 14 letters and I couldn’t guess the P:(( Couldn’t get away from looking at the ON as a word by itself so never got the pronunciation in my mind.

    Didn’t care for the theme, but the puzzle was fine. Is BUT okay in SEENBUTNOTHEARD ? I’ve only ever know it as AND. One or both could be regionalisms.?

    Especially liked 49D Full of difficulties > KNOTTY

  2. Red Dog says:

    very fun puzzle. kept expecting to see an revealer though, like a country music song titled, “My Mixed Up Heart,” or “My Heart Has Turned to Earth” or “The Earth is my Heart.”… maybe they could have used a revealer via the oscar-winning movie, “Crazy Heart”. … but even without a revealer, i thought there were a lot of fresh, cool clues for a wednesday.

  3. Gareth says:

    I think the last entry is the revealer – Earth Shattering in a cryptic crossword can sort of mean anagram earth… It’s not indicated as such in its clue though. HORCRUX is weird as I’ve never read the books or seen the movies, but it still dropped in my head from somewhere. What else? Think that THENWHAT is a cool entry, and that the clue for WON was kinda unexpected…

  4. Barry G says:

    At first, I wasn’t crazy about this puzzle. But by the time I finished it, I had a change of heart…

  5. ArtLvr says:

    Funny, even with those circled segments stepping down the grid, I just ignored them last night and solved as if they weren’t there! Surprised this a.m. to revisit it here, and agree that the theme is EARTH-SHATTERING even if not specified. Very nice… and I loved the clue and answer for PARTHENON FRIEZE.

    The CS was one of my fastest ever, it just flowed — and yes, I got the delightful theme which I understood as JACKS (added) TO each OPENing word in theme phrases.

    I also completed the AV puzzle just now, and can’t wait for some explanatory comment!

  6. joon says:

    i’m not sure you need an explicit reveal clue—those circles are pretty self-explanatory. and both HEART and EARTH are already part of theme answers. and finally, 69 theme squares is already quite a lot!

    i enjoyed the puzzle. HORCRUX is a weird made-up word, but at least it’s not an entire theme full of weird made-up words. :) plus, how many millions of people have read harry potter or seen the 6th movie? (or somehow, like gareth, learned the word through osmosis?)

  7. janie says:

    it’s that “anagramming by shifting one letter at a time” that blows me away. really — this aspect of the construction dazzles. ditto the step-like placement of the anagrammed letters in the grid.

    i’m mostly lurking these days as i’m in transit quite a bit and computer access (in the absence of a laptop [or ipad…]) is and will be sketchy. which is to say — please understand if i don’t respond to something directed towards me, or think that i’m turning a deaf ear. ‘t ain’t so!


  8. Zulema says:

    That has to be the strangest clue for Canetti, “‘English’ novelist.” He became a British citizen, as did many in those unsettled WWII-and-following-years’ times. Would anyone call Erika Mann (Thomas Mann’s younger daughter) an English writer and actress? Canetti was born in Bulgaria, his parents moved around a great deal, he was educated in Vienna mainly and also moved around a great deal but always wrote in German.

    As usual, a Wednesday puzzle is a mixed lot. I totally guessed (correctly) at the HORCRUX and SEXY and also WON and WHO crossings, but on-line solvers probably don’t see why I am mentioning it.

  9. Gareth says:

    BEQ: Did post @ website. But coupla additions, same CONTRACEPTION misdirection here, also had the TION part!

    “1A. [Maker of a certain hole: Abbr.] clues CFC. That hole’s in the ozone layer.” – and not in your rubber, say. Sorry.

  10. Zulema says:

    Still harping on Canetti, the following is a quote from the Swedish presenter of his Nobel literature prize:

    “The exiled and cosmopolitan author Canetti has one native land, and that is the German language. He has never abandoned it, and he has often avowed his love of the highest manifestations of the classical German culture.”

  11. Jan (danjan) says:

    Loved both the NYTimes (after I solved it and realized the letters revolved) and Byron’s AV puzzle!

  12. joon says:

    byron’s puzzle is a major “holy crap” feat for me. oh. my. god. how does he do it?

  13. John Haber says:

    Seemed odd to me, too, to call Canetti English. I didn’t know WON, but “Says _HO” wsa sufficiently unambiguous that I was fine. Similarly, while my last square to fall was SE_Y and HORCRU_, seemed like SEXY was the only word available.

    I think I’d have liked the theme more if they were all puns like “earth shattering, with (say) “heartbreaking.”

  14. Nick W says:

    What’s even more impressive about the Byron’s AV Club crossword is that, with the exception of 17A, all of the crosses with 7D, the central down answer, are squares which are part of the backwards Toyota models.

  15. Will Nediger says:

    Byron is such a show-off.

  16. ArtLvr says:

    LOL, Will… The Toyota theme was wasted on me, as I suspected — I don’t know car models forward, let alone backward. Inherited my mother’s Buick and drove it for 13 years, since then I’ve had a ’97 Grand Caravan which is still doing fine. Lucked out!

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