Tuesday, 4/20/10

4/16 CHE 4:40
Jonesin’ 3:58
LAT 2:58
NYT untimed
CS untimed
NYT second Sunday puzzle (Spiral) 3:10

Yep, I’ve got some catch-up to do here. The Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle page finally posted last week’s crossword today, as well as this week’s puzzle. And I never got around to doing the Spiral over the weekend.

Paula Gamache’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 19I thought I had a leg up since I had done the Tuesday puzzle already for the Chicago Crossword Tournament. But ho! The Tuesday puzzle at the tournament is actually next Tuesday’s crossword. I opened up the current puzzle in the applet and was surprised to discover Paula’s byline…and that the time I’d spent writing about Oliver Hill’s puzzle hadn’t put me ahead of the game tonight. Drat!

So. Paula’s puzzle, not Oliver’s. Rewind to the beginning. The theme is different spellings of the “Maine” sound:

  • 17A. CHARLEMAGNE is the [King who was the son of Pepin the Short].
  • 23A. PUBLIC DOMAIN is the [Post-copyright status] for works no longer covered by copyright.
  • 37A. CHICKEN CHOW MEIN looks great across the middle of the menu grid. It’s a [La Choy product], and I can’t remember the last time a La Choy product was in my house.
  • 49A. Geo trivia! The [Easternmost U.S. capital] is AUGUSTA, MAINE.
  • 60A. Is BRAIDED MANE an actual, in-the-language thing? Clued as [Fancy equine coif].

The two long Down answers are great:

  • 11D. PRIVATE EYE is clued with two examples: [Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade].
  • 28D. The SPICE GIRLS are/were Scary, Baby, Ginger, Posh and Sporty. My favorite was always Scary. How about you?

Among the tougher and/or more interesting clues were these ones:

  • 1A. [“What did Delaware?” “I don’t know, but ___” (old joke)] clues ALASKA. Go press the red button at instantrimshot.com.
  • 14A. TART UP is clued [Decorate flamboyantly, in slang]. I use that term every December when I see houses bedecked in holiday lights.
  • 21A. Ah, I like this one. The OHIO is a [River that ends at Cairo]. Is it Cairo, Illinois? (That’s pronounced kay-ro, you know.)
  • 1D. ATCO is the [Classic record label for the Bee Gees and Cream]. I keep seeing this one in crosswords. If you didn’t know it, make a mental note of the name.
  • 5A. Whoa, high-end German. KULTUR is [Civilization, to Freud].
  • 7D. Yesterday, SAPPORO was an Olympic city. Today, it’s a beer. [Sapporo competitor] clues ASAHI.
  • 18D. I like a good [Crown ___] MOLDING.  Are they still called crown moldings if they’re a foot and a half below the ceiling, or do they morph into picture rails?
  • 32A. MCM, or 1900, is the [Year McKinley was elected to a second term].
  • 39D. [Kit ___ (candy bars)] clues KATS. This one ain’t hard, it’s just delicious.
  • 45D. [Excessively fast] clues STARVE, though the wording is unnecessarily and weirdly deceptive. I don’t think one can “fast excessively,” and “excessively undereat” is not the way anyone would phrase that concept.
  • 47D. UNADON is not Italian for “one godfather.” It’s a [Japanese eel and rice dish].
  • 57D. Good ol’ [Jug handle, in archaeology], the ANSA of eld.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Burn After Reading: it’s what remains”

Region capture 20I’m a tad surprised that 34A: ASHEN ([White from fright]) wasn’t clued as being a hint to theme, but then again, Jonesin’ puzzles do have titles that provide the hint. Each theme entry incorporates some extra ASH at the end, so the theme could be more about the end of a cigarette than about Eyjafjallajokull’s spewing of ash. Here are the ASHed phrases:

  • 20A. [Loretta Swit’s nickname, with “The”?] could have been THE DIVINE MISS M*A*S*H, as she played Major Houlihan on the TV series M*A*S*H. The Divine Miss M, of course, is Bette Midler.
  • 25A. [Tried to buzz off of a fertilizer ingredient?] clues GOT HIGH ON POTASH. I’m a sucker for any mention of potash. Why? Because potassium is named after pot-ashes, and how many Latinate element names have such homely roots? Now, the roots of the theme entry are another story. “Got high on pot” seems a little redundant. As opposed to “got high on life”?
  • 43A. PREPARATION HASH is a [Meat-and-potatoes dish used to hone your culinary skills?]. Gotta love a linkage between Preparation H and food.
  • 48A. This one splits its ASHed word in two. [Scary creatures that can’t be bought with plastic?] are MONSTERS IN CASH, breaking up Monsters, Inc. into IN CASH.

Nice assortment of base phrases—a nickname, a verb phrase, an ointment that people joke about, and a Pixar movie.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Six Pack”—Janie’s review

This was yet another puzzle for which I gave myself the “D’oh!” prize. I thought at first that the theme might be related to slang terms for parts of the human anatomy, or then to thirst-quenching alcoholic beverages. Wrong both times, of course. As things play out, the last word of each theme phrase can be paired with the word “pack.” That’s direct enough and kinda fun. But I was baffled by the title as I’d seen only four theme answers–so why was it called “Six Pack”? Oho. There are two more. “O, me of little faith”…

Gail’s “six pack” is comprised of vacuum pack, cold pack, wolf pack, Rat Pack, hot pack and power pack as delivered by:

  • 17A. HAND VACUUM [Dirt Devil, e.g.].
  • 11D. CATCH COLD [Get the sniffles].
  • 27A. LONE WOLF [Solitary sort]. This was one of the two that eluded me for so long…
  • 34D. SMELL A RAT [Suspect something fishy]. Hmm. Never thought about the variety of species that are maligned when it comes to idioms of questionability. “Gamy” is another word that sorta fits, too. Others?
  • 46A. NOT SO HOT [Less than wonderful]. The other “pack” that (almost) got away. I’m less familiar with hot packs per se, but they’re more than legit–and handy not only for spot application, but for keeping your hands warm if you have to be outside in cold weather for any length of time.
  • 59A. WORLD POWER [United States of America, e.g.].

I’m wondering if CORPORATE JET is one of those theme ideas that was left on the cutting room floor.

Among the non-theme fill, I like the grid-balanced pair of compounds PEA POD (imaginatively clued as [Vegetable vessel]) and ICE CAP [Polar sight]. CD CASE, COCKPIT and MOVES ON are other livelier entries. I’m always more energized by a puzzle with cluing that’s a bit twisty, so I was grateful at least for [“Liquid diet” drinkers]. This leads us not to the ENSURE SET, but to SOTS.

Pete Collins’ Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Poetic License”

Region capture 21

Let’s be brief here, because there’s a short stack of IHOP buttermilk pancakes with my name on it out there.

Theme: I didn’t notice the theme last night when I solved this puzzle. Like it says in the theme entries, which are essentially unclued: EACH PAIR OF CLUES / CREATES A RHYME / IT SEEMS I’VE GOT / TOO MUCH FREE TIME. Indeed, each pair of clues rhymes. Mind you, 42A: [Puts into the pot] / 44A: [Word following “dot”] makes for lousy, meaningless poetry. It’s a testament to constructor Pete and editor Patrick Berry’s skills that I didn’t go through the puzzle grumbling at awkward clues—I didn’t notice a thing. It’s more fun to read the clues aloud, Dr. Seuss–style, than to ponder the fill.

Kevin Christian’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 22This theme is all [RIGHT] with me. That word is three things: a SYNONYM FOR “JUST,” a HOMONYM FOR “WRITE,” and an ANTONYM FOR “LEFT.” If I’ve seen a theme along these lines before, it was ages ago—it feels fresh and interesting.

In the fill, I like COMIC STRIP, WEAK LINK, and AT GUNPOINT, but I wouldn’t have called [Ramada, for one] a MOTOR INN any time in the last 30 years. Does Ramada still use the term? And how come I’ve never seen “motelier”? That should be a word.

Solid Tuesday offering here, with a mix of familiar words and more crosswordese-ish fill (SROS, ADEN, EDAM). Solvers only comfortable with the easier spectrum of crosswords need to learn those words to advance in their hobby, so I think it’s completely fair to include a handful of those in any easy newspaper puzzle.

Will Shortz’s 4/18 second Sunday puzzle in the New York Times, “Spiral”

I never timed myself on a Spiral puzzle before, though I’ve been doing them for years and years in Games magazine. They always seemed quick and disposable, and my recorded solving time confirms that yep, they’re quick puzzles.

I just saw a photo of 15-18: [Former New York Times crossword editor Will] WENG on Saturday. Bob Petitto brought a bunch of his crossword memorabilia (old books, etc.) to the Chicago Crossword Tournament, and among the items was a snapshot of Bob with the two Wills, Weng and Shortz. Bob and Will S. looked like babies; couldn’t have been much more than 30.

I used to be a dental editor, and I can’t say I’ve ever encountered the word FORETOOTH (33-25: [Incisor]). Gareth, is this a veterinary term?

I am starting yet another paragraph with the word “I.” I’m on a roll!

I can’t say I’m familiar with the phrase TO DO GRACE (100-92: [Reflect credit upon, in the words of Shakespeare]). I trust someone more literary than I can educate us as to which play(s) this is in. Does anyone still use this? “You do me grace”?

I don’t care for the answer to 69-59: [Who wrote  “Today is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.” (2 wds.)]. DOCTOR SEUSS looks all kinds of wrong. I have it on good authority that Doctor Who is never to be abbreviated as Dr. Who (“The Doctor” is not named Who), and that the old TV show Mr. Ed oughtn’t be expanded to MISTER ED in crosswords. Similarly, I’ve never seen Doctor Seuss spelled out like that. He’s Dr. Seuss.

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13 Responses to Tuesday, 4/20/10

  1. Gareth says:

    Interesting enough Tuesday theme idea. Really like 4 of the entries, but was also deeply puzzled by braided mane. The ALASKA joke @ 1A was a cool opener, heard it, which helped getting into the puzzle. KULTUR I only knew from KULTUR Kampf… UNADON was the other mystery answer here.

    I do see a couple of “Is it Tuesday?”‘s in the time list. Interested to hear where things went south, seemed a fairly standard Tuesday over here, UNADON aside.

  2. ArtLvr says:

    Yes, BRAIDED MANE is good, though you might have gone for Tail if you hadn’t already sussed out the theme. We have a Cairo in upstate NY too, also sounded as Kay-Row. Knew the DACHA and KULTUR, had to get ASAHI and UNADON through crosses… SVEN and SWANN gave each other away, no other choice; ditto CIAO and PEUGEOT. STARVE’s clue was ucky, but Dracula’s condition being UNDEAD was hilarious! Well done, Paula!

  3. Sara says:

    Beautiful puzzle. What slowed me up (down?) was the big daddy, CHICKENCHOWMEIN; I just couldn’t see it until I had almost every letter from the crosses. The clue for STARVE was a little disturbing, but I thought it was weekend-clever.

    MOLDINGs a foot and a half down: yup, picture rail.

  4. ePeterso2 says:

    I think I first heard the joke as: “If MISS ISSIPPI gave MISS OURI her NEW JERSEY, then what would DELA WARE?”

  5. Evad says:

    Ditto on the STARVE clue…I wonder if the German version of Karma Chameleon was attributed to KULTUR KLUB?

  6. cyberdiva says:

    I was a little surprised at a few of the non-Tuesday items, which for me included UNADON and ASAHI. On the other hand, I knew SVEN and SWANN right away, as well as DACHA and KULTUR. I also had problems with CHICKENCHOWMEIN, since I had OUCH for “Geez! That stings!” Changed OUCH first to OWCH, since I needed the W for SWAT, and for a while I assumed that both OWCH and CHICKENCHOHMEIN were alternate spellings :-).

    Janie, thanks for explaining the theme for today’s CS puzzle. I breezed through the puzzle so fast that I didn’t have time to think much about the theme, but when I finished, I still had no idea. Duh.

  7. Spencer says:

    IMO, it’s not crown molding if it’s not at the top of the wall. Google image search for crown molding agrees with me, at least in the first 5 pages, there are no pictures where it’s not in the angle between the wall and ceiling.

    On the other hand, I’ve used “crown molding” to build a light trough, which would be pointless shoved up against the ceiling. :-)

    I started to type NILE, then realized that the NILE doesn’t end at Cairo. Anyone else fall into that trap?

  8. Dan F says:

    Thanks for the CHE heads-up – I thought they were on spring break! Loved the theme… I did notice that the cluing was a little weird, but all was forgiven once I pieced together the first two theme answers. Best couplet: [Michael Mann movie] / [Think of as groovy].

  9. *David* says:

    CHE was awesome without compromising much. I liked the theme wording as well. My favorite rhyme would have to be

    Way in which to be, “Psycho” actress Leigh

  10. joon says:

    the fact that the clues scan as well as rhyme is a very nice touch in the CHE. i’m curious how the cluing requirements affected the fill.

    … and i’m finally caught up! take that, five days of puzzles! the fact that i had no chance to finish a few of them completely (the WABO/FABI cross in today’s jonesin, the 2 in hook’s BG, the entire NW of the puzzler) doesn’t faze me a bit. and, uh, work today was not entirely productive. shh.

  11. Meem says:

    The only foretooth I could think of belonged to Oliver J. Dragon of Kukla, Fran, add Ollie.

  12. John Haber says:

    Regarding the spiral, FORETOOTH is new to me, too, and I too assumed I’d know enough in this field between textbook work and my father’s job (dentist). But while it’s not in MW11, RHUD and a number of other dictionaries give it as a synonym for “incisor” with either not qualifying discipline or, in one dictionary, “medicine/dentistry.” Web searches for images also shows people. So I guess it’s not strictly for horses. I’m also puzzled by the Shakespeare reference, since I can’t think of one.

    I’m actually delighted to see the abbreviation “Dr. Who,” since it’s compact, looks reasonable, and is about a cult figure who could vanish from culture forever for all I care. But I have to admit that DOCTOR SEUSS looks really strange. It’s on none of his books, and search the Web for it, and all links of any kind will take you to the abbreviation.

  13. Joan macon says:

    Chiming in late as usual, when I was a kid we would spend our summers in state parks in California and Oregon, and every night at the campfire we would sing camp songs. Best of all was the “State Song”—
    Where has Ore gon?
    He’s seeing Okla home;
    What did Ida ho?
    She hoed her Mary land—

    and on and on into the night.

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