CS untimed (Janie)/3:36 (Amy)
Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword
What a beaut! This 72-worder is packed with entertainingly fresh fill and Scrabbly letters. The grid is similar to the seven-heavy ones I typically grumble about, but there are some black squares giving each corner four or five 7s instead of six 7s. Does that loosen things up and facilitate the inclusion of cooler answers? If so, then I’m all for black squares.
Tons of highlights tonight. In the “letters pronounced as letters” category, we have the following notable entries:
- 1A: T-BONES are [Hearty cuts] of steak.
- 55A: AVENUE Q crosses 39D: SUSIE Q. The former is a [Musical with the song “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”] and the latter’s the [Final track on the Rolling Stones’ “12 X 5”], which I’ve never heard of.
- 23D: AFL-CIO, with six pronounced letters, is an [Org. with a handshake in its logo]. Click that link to see it.
In the colloquial and contemporary zone are the following:
- 7A: “YOU RANG?” is a [Response of mock subservience]. Not always mock. Sometimes one really just wants to be helpful, and yet is not a butler. Speaking of butlers, if you like doing crosswords with Across Lite or Black Ink but find it a hassle to track down .puz files for your favorite puzzles every day, check out Alex Boisvert’s Crossword Butler. This tool is so genius, it can even convert a puzzle from a web-only interface into Across Lite. Of course, just because you can get USA Today puzzles in .puz form this way doesn’t mean you should start doing ’em.
- 33A: SOBE is the [Lizard Fuel beverage maker]. Attention, product and company namers: Pick a name that’s short, is 50% or 60% vowels, alternates consonants and vowels, and isn’t already a word, and it’ll be crossword gold. Free publicity!
- 36A: HUGO BOSS is a [Giant in fashion]. Now, is “giant” in the clue because Hugo and huge differ by only one letter, or because Hugo Boss is really all that?
- 13D: My favorite answer in the grid is GAYDAR, a [Sense of orientation]. Would you believe me if I told you that during my adolescence, the people across the street were the Gaydars? True story.
- 33D: Second-favorite answer: SUPERBAD, the [2007 hit comedy with a character who dubbed himself “McLovin'”]. Turned out to be a sweet movie. One of the stars is Michael Cera, who was essentially the same character in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Juno, Arrested Development and, going caveman, Year One. It seems to work.
- 40D: The TIP JAR is a [Place for extra notes on a piano?]. I have never approached a piano tip jar, but at cafés and whatnot, sure.
- 50D: [Dawg] and BRO are synonymous, at least if you’re Randy Jackson of American Idol. Wait, does he ever say BRO?
And now, highlights in categories other than those two:
- 17A: GERMANY is a [Bad setting] in that places called Bad [Something] are German. Bad means “bath.” This clue has zero overlap with SUPERBAD…but now I am pondering the awesomeness that a superbath could offer.
- 22A: Lame answer, this COR, but the clue, [Prefix with relation] had me stumped. I like to be stumped a little. Cor-, like co-, means “together.”
- 29A: [Blanche DuBois’s “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers,” e.g.] is an EXIT LINE. I had LAST LINE.
- 34A: MR. BIG leaves the Sex and the City world to be a generic [Top banana]. Who is Mr. Big in the crossword world? And who is Ms. Big?
- 49A: JO’S BOYS is the [1886 Alcott sequel]. To…Little Women?
- 51A. I don’t know a damn thing about BEZIQUE except that I think it was in another themeless or two several years ago. The Z, the Q? Yay! [Favorite card game of Winston Churchill], in case you were wondering.
- 57A: Tough clue. DANCES are [Boston and Charleston], but I hesitated to put down DANCES because I’ve never heard of the Boston.
- 1D: Paul THEROUX, [“The Great Railway Bazaar” travel writer], is also a novelist. I’ve read The Mosquito Coast.
- 12D: I have to mention NINE-PIN, [One standing in the back of an alley], because my husband chanced on NCAA women’s bowling on an ESPN channel tonight, and one wonders how much scholarship money there is in bowling.
Did you enjoy this crossword as much as I did?
Todd McClary’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Iggy Noramus, Lab Partner”
Clever theme—a scientific research topic is misconstrued by Iggy Noramus, not the top student. It took me a long time to untangle the puzzle owing to the length of the theme clues and the non-theme clues I just wasn’t getting too quickly. Maybe it’s past my bedtime?
Here’s the theme:
- 17a. [“Iggy, these biographies of Stokowski and Toscanini don’t really apply to our project on …”] SUPERCONDUCTORS. Ha!
- 25a. [“Iggy, your stirring Duncan Hines batter has no relevance to our experiment on …”] BROWNIAN MOTION. Now, this one did not fall quickly because I think of Duncan Hines as a cake mix brand. If you’re making brownies from a mix, for heaven’s sake, go with Ghirardelli.
- 41a. [“Iggy, this picture you doctored to make us look like a prom couple is of no use to our study on …”] PHOTOSYNTHESIS.
- 55a. [“The good news is, I told the professor about your lab contributions and she gave us an A for our assignment on …”] RELATIVE DENSITY: Iggy is relatively denser than his or her lab partner.
- 20a. [Vesta’s place] is the HEARTH. I should’ve bought this book yesterday at the Scholastic Book Fair: She’s All That!: A Look-it-Up Guide to the Goddesses of Mythology.
- 32a. [Comedian ___ William Scott] clues SEANN. I don’t consider him a comedian. He’s an actor who does a lot of comedies. He doesn’t do standup, does he?
- 4d. [Frat-party tabletop game] is BEER PONG. Well, the Chronicle is an academic publication.
- 39d. I got TOAST for [Club level?] via the crossings and didn’t understand it until just now. Toasted bread is a level in a club sandwich. See, I never order the club sandwich on account of the bacon.
- 48d. [Slimy scoopful] clues GLOP. Gross.
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “CD Changer”—Janie’s review
A puzzle that’s a paean to audio equipment? No, no. Instead, by changing the letter “C” to the letter “D” in familiar phrases, Patrick d-livers d-lights by the half-dozen. That’s how:
- crab grass → DRAB GRASS at 17A. [Lackluster lawn]. Note how the last two letters sit atop the first two of the next theme fill as
- pub crawl → PUB DRAWL at 21A. [Speech at a southern saloon?]. That’s funny, y’all.
- shopping cart → SHOPPING DART at 33A. [Evasive maneuver at the mall?]. This one takes some thinking about. Go for the visual. I’m seeing the “Serpentine!” moment with Alan Arkin and Peter Falk from “The In-Laws.”
- cave painting → DAVE PAINTING at 43A. [Name of Letterman’s watercolor segment]. I think this one’s my fave. There’s something very silly and not-at-all out of the realm of possibility about it. (If there’s anyone from CBS lurking… ya read it here first!)
- wine cork → WINE DORK at 55A. [Oenophile?]. Perfect. Hmm. Sounds like it could be yet another subtitle for Lettie Teague’s book Educating Peter: How I Taught a Famous Movie Critic the Difference Between Cabernet and Merlot or How Anybody Can Become an (Almost) Instant Wine Expert. Once again, note how the last two letters sit atop the first two of the next theme fill as
- craft fair → DRAFT FAIR at 61A. [Oktoberfest?]. What with pub drawl and wine dork, it feels like there’s a bit of an alcoholic beverage mini-theme here.
The fun begun in the theme fill continues with the likes of [“Monty Python’s ] SPAMALOT [” (Best Musical of 2005)] (you know, the one whose CAST [Curtain call crew] was the outrageous troupe of knights ERRANT [Straying]), and PEEWEE [Shortstop Reese]; and a raft of peppy clue/fill combos. My picks today would have to include:
- [Dieter’s snack]/RICE CAKE followed by [The skinny]/INFO;
- the alphabetic [A, B and C (abbr.)]/LTRS followed by [A, B or C, say (abbr.)]/ANS;
- [Like “The Twilight Zone”] for EERIE, and the assonant WEIRDO clued as [Creep]. So “creep” is an adjective here and not a verb, as it is in [Creep like a crab], for SIDLE;
- the pair that recall’s Monday’s “Off to Sleep…” theme, [Drops off]/SAGS and [Exhaust]/DRAIN; and finally
- the rhymed shout-out to psychedelia’s granddaddy with [What made Leary bleary], and that would be LSD. Groovy.
A couple comments from Amy: SONNY (68A) is clued as [James Caan’s role in “The Godfather”]. See? That’s iconic. That recent puzzle in which TESS was clued not as Nastassja Kinski’s title character but as Jamie Lee Curtis’s Freaky Friday character—that didn’t work because the character’s utterly non-iconic. Patrick clues RNS (69A) as [Health care pros], and my oh my, that’s a fine clue.
Jerome Gunderson’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Each theme entry was formed by adding a W to the beginning of a familiar phrase:
- 17A: [Stonemason’s goal?] is WALL IN A DAY’S WORK.
- 27A: [Flirt’s mascara stains?] are WINK BLOTS.
- 48A: [Dermatology class videos?] are WART FILMS.
- 62A: [Inherited wealth?] consists of WILL-GOTTEN GAINS. That’s a good one.
Only one of the three involves a change in the vowel sound in the W word, but that odd man out is my favorite. Art films turning into WART FILMS is such a horrifying and gross change, it made me laugh.
- 15A: [Bobby’s informant] suggests Britishisms, and NARK is, I think, the British spelling for NARC.
- 22A: [Contemptible people] are SWINE. Fridays are always good for non-S plurals.
- 34A: [“It’s what’s hot in pain relief” brand] is BEN-GAY. Didn’t know it but it was gettable because its competitor, Icy Hot, can’t merely focus on the “hot.”
- 39A: [Chain with pieces, briefly] is KFC. Have you seen KFC’s latest promotion, Buckets for the Cure? Pink buckets of fried chicken to raise money for breast cancer. Mm-hmm, because a high-fat diet has been linked to breast cancer, so why not encourage people to eat more buckets? For the cure! Which you will now be more likely to need.
- 42A: [PC program] clues APP. I’ll bet far more people use “app” to mean a smartphone application now than software for computers.
- 46A: [High-tech unit] is a BYTE. Feels quaint, doesn’t it? See also: 42A.
- 52A: [Chiwere speaker] is an OTOE. No relation to actor Chiwetel Ojiofor. Hey, are there any other CHIWE___ words out there for our CHIWE___ theme? No?
- 70A: [Antares or Betelgeuse] is an M-STAR. As usual, I filled in *STAR and waited for the crossing.
- 4D: [Kelso and Funny Cide] are race horses. Their testicular status? GELDINGS.
- 9D: [Something to look up to] is the SKY. I was leaning towards SCY thanks to NARC/NARK.
- It’s Kiddie Time! 10D: [Certain pet, in totspeak] is a BOW WOW; 11D: [Childlike Wells race] is ELOI; and 13D: [Kid] is TYKE.
- 19D: [Flier with a bent nose] is an SST. Or rather, was. No longer do they fly. No birds have bent noses.
- 32D: I miss [Political columnist Molly] IVINS.
- 39D: KRAKATOA! That’s a much-more-pronounceable-than Eyjafjallajokull [Volcano in the Sunda Strait]. Let the record show that I typed that Icelandic name from memory.
- 44D: [Company quorum?] is TWO. Crowd quorum is three.
- 64D: [Pinup’s leg] clues GAM. I am hereby opening the floor for suggestions for what we can call an appealingly well-muscled male leg.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Do It Again”
The ACK/ACH choice did me in. I went with ACH, which made the Laura Palmer answer PEAHS PEAKS, and instead of instantly seeing that Twin Peaks should be PEAKS PEAKS, I noted that PEAHS was an anagram of SHAPE and waited for the light to dawn. And not every theme entry’s starting point is so familiar as a phrase that connotes doubling. BRIDGE BRIDGE means what? I know of contract bridge, the London Bridge, but not the tournament card game whose name is “[a word that connotes two] bridge.” Double-timing yields TIMING TIMING, but my brain was messed up by some car engine–related TIMINGS fill in another recent puzzle. ONESELF ONESELF with the “beating a dead horse” clue must be “repeat oneself.” The tie-it-all-together answer is KFC’s DOUBLE DOWN “sandwich,” though “meat glorb” may be a more accurate term than “sandwich.” The DOWN part explains why the doubled theme entries are Down, not Across. (The grid’s also 16 squares high.)
Two most surprising clues:
- 74a. [“For his contributions to jazz, ___ should be smeared with bacon grease, placed in a cage with three underfed Kodiak grizzly bears, and whatever happens, happens.” (“Genius Guide to Jazz”)] clues KENNY G. Solved the puzzle with basically the first and last five words of the clue, but suspected revealing the full clue would be delicious.
- 55a. [Two cups full of milk?] are, for those who are lactating, a BRA.
in a word, yes. great fill, great clues, great puzzle. bravo, brad!
NCAA women’s bowling?!? how many ESPNs are there?
One too few, otherwise crossword tournaments would be televised.
I think it was ESPN-U in HD. We need ESPN-XW.
Darn it — I had the NYT all teased out without help till the last bits around Tennessee — then had to google for SOBE and GO-GOS. Unfair, as I’d been pleased to dig up so many other toughies from some unconscious recess, including CALEB and GALEN. Not much to really smile about, except the “Tubes in an oven” ZITI and Winston’s BEZIQUE. Pin-setter came to mind for “One standing in the back of an alley”, pre-automation. Super so-so.
There is the Amy-David factor which is similar to Moore’s law, which is that how ever long it takes Amy to finish a puzzle, it will David at least three times as long but typically not more then five times. I finished the CHE in just over 20 minutes so I’m feeling pretty good about your 6 minute mark.
“Of course, just because you can get USA Today puzzles in .puz form this way doesn’t mean you should start doing ‘em.”
Can somebody fill me in? I don’t have time to even begin to do all of the top-shelf puzzles available, so it’s not very often that I happen to do USA Today. However, I have long been aware the ‘serious’ puzzlers seem to despise the outlet. What’s the back-story?
Five minutes to do the right half of the NYT, fifteen more minute to complete the left half. SW corner was last to go–didn’t help that I had SURREY in for SUSSEX.
pezibc – Today, the USA Today puzzle has RAJA (Indian Noble, once) crossing RAJ (British rule in India) on the J.
I also recall a few weeks ago they had a puzzle where all 4 of the theme words were the same as http://www.xwordinfo.com/ShowPuzzle.aspx?date=6/30/1997 . TWINCITIES, FULLHOUSE, QUEENBEES, and KINGCOTTON can’t really be the only continuations that fit that theme, can they?
W.O.W!!! I think we’ve found where Caleb’s treasure map leads to… This Friday’s got gold everywhere!! The bottom-right 2Zs and 2Qs (BEQ also put AVENUEQ on the bottom recently but it’s still just a crazy thing to do!!!) Bottom-left: 2 favourite clues – TIPJAR & MAFIOSO = genius and JOSBOYS looks great too!
7 minutes had almost everything except the entire top-left (except SUNSHINE, EXITLINE (after toying briefly with LASTLINE but realizing EXIT was more correct and NEE) and some of the top-right. Was really reluctant to put in 17A even with GERM??? in place – it just seemed so, off. (Typed this before reading your blog – see it means Bad as in place names and not, well Nazism, which is how I interpreted it – I’m sure I won’t be the only one!) GAYDAR and YOURANG are also beauties. The top-left was a real road-block though, until I got EAR… then it all came together.
One error @ 33A/28D – forgot to put that in time. Can never remember SOBE and no clue about NABORS.
USA Today (and its identical twin the Universal): Had a few puzzles published there (whistles) so I can’t say too much… I have noticed a couple of instances like Power said where the entire theme seems identical theme entries as an old NYT occur (I’ll say this… it can happen, but when there are a lot of theme-fill options it gets a little iffy). There are sometimes themes that just make no sense or are very inconsistent. Oh and like Power also said, more duplication errors than any other puzzle I’m aware of… And it’s the only place where you can still meet words like ANOA with any frequency in the wild (at least as far as US puzzles go). But other than that fine!
@pezibc: There are fine constructors who submit work to USA Today and Universal. Both are edited by Timothy Parker, who stands steadfastly outside the mainstream crossword community (which includes NYT, LAT, Newsday, CrosSynergy, WSJ, WaPo, and other venues) with a different policy on crosswordese (@thatpuzzleguy Tyler Hinman tweeted this week, “USA Today fill lowlights: AMBO, AGAMA, and RATEL. Guess they’re forced by the rigors of a grid with 78 entries and 42 theme squares.”) and a sometimes-bizarre editing style. I did the St. Patrick’s Day USAT puzzle one or two years ago (in a hotel…but I didn’t feel good about myself). The theme was something like eight surnames of famous men named Patrick—but the editor had reclued things to break up the theme. EWING became the “Dallas” family name rather than [Former basketball star Patrick]. I think only 4-5 of the 8 Patrick entries remained thematic in the clues, and they weren’t a symmetrical grouping. I just don’t understand why an editor would do that. Themes are the point of themed puzzles! To be strengthened and honed, not eviscerated.
If any USA Today executives should happen to be reading this: I would love the job of USA Today crossword editor, should it open up, and could hook you up with many other talented candidates too.
“NCAA women’s bowling?!? how many ESPNs are there?”
“One too few, otherwise crossword tournaments would be televised.”
Do you really think anyone who doesn’t visit this blog would watch?
Wow, what a fine puzzle by Brad! Almost every word or clue in here is interesting in one way or another, and it seemed like everything was just barely hovering within my range of knowledge, which is a lot of fun. Unusual letter combos like BH and MRB and TB and SB and HR and BT and PJ, long words ending in things like Q and U and X, and starting with things like Y and J – wow. Definitely on my “favorite puzzles of the year” list.
I liked seeing one of my favorite musicals in here at 55A, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I blanked for about 5 seconds on THEROUX, despite the fact that Theroux is one of my favorite travel writers, I’ve read almost all of his non-fiction work, and I have a copy of “The Great Railway Bazaar” on my shelf. Gaa!
Great work! Loved it! More like this, please, Will!
Great puzzle, start to finish. A little of everything needed to solve this one.
When I finally got around to finding GAYDAR and YOU RANG hiding in the corner, I was floored by the former clue/answer combo. Just too clever! THEROUX was an unknown so that was a tricky spot, but the design was such that you had a shot of figuring everything out, if you just tilted your mind in the right ways. And an Avenue Q reference to boot!
Still haven’t seen SUPERBAD, way behind on actual movie viewing. Up to date on reading reviews and promos though, just not the actual films…
“Do you really think anyone who doesn’t visit this blog would watch?”
That was said about Wordplay. If spelling bees can be on prime time network TV, crossword tournaments can be on obscure cable stations.
I didn’t plan the double Figaro references at 45A and 46A, but they OBLIQUEly illustrate a cool piece of trivia about Figaro as an operatic crossover. Who can elaborate?
If some of the entry/clue pairings hit the sweet spot for you, I’m glad. Several of my favorites made the cut, and in a couple of other cases Will, as usual, masterfully tweaked one word to achieve the nth degree of refinement.
Bravo, Brad! I was impressed with the variety of fill; it was a fun solve, testing every corner of my brain.
I love the idea of ESPN-XW! I will run right over to their HQs and suggest it! I know people who would watch who don’t read the blogs.
Amy as crossword editor of USA Today is the best idea ever for them. Only downside – making more time every M-F to solve another top-quality puzzle.
i didn’t find the CHE too tough. i figured out the theme early on, and perhaps it helps that i taught physics lab for years. :) in any event, you pretty much had the same solving times as me on the NYT and the CHE, just in the wrong order. some terrific puzzles today, though. i really like todd’s theme, and patrick’s CS puzzle today was also excellent. six theme answers is always impressive, and most of them really shone.
12X5 is in my Itunes It’s an early Stones album, featuring a mix of covers and original songs, the best known of which is probably “Time is on my Side”. (I think the title refers to 12 songs and 5 band members. Not the most original title.)
The cover features the band in white shirts and jackets, some with ties. But they still manage to look disreputable. (Mick is not wearing either jacket or tie, and his shirt is wrinkled.)
More here: http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:w9fqxqt5ldfe
Funny to have the AVENUE Q song “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” (sung by KATE MONSTER) in yesterday’s FB and today’s NYT.
Somewhat less enthusiasm here, but I still enjoyed it. I didn’t like gogos, sobe, susie Q, whatever the other Q was. Never heard of Hugh Boss. Is that a person or a company? Bezique is similar to belotte, which, as a child in France during the 50’s we played incessantly. But I liked a lot of it, especially the N & S E. I had ‘matador’ instead of ‘mafioso’ which was a nice misdirection. I had Wessex instead of Sussex, so people were all over the place on that. Coincidence, I guess that it was in the south part of the grid.
duplicate bridge. and in my head, it’s “two-timing.” “double-timing” is playing a march twice as fast as the regular tempo.
My problem with GOGOS wasn’t so much I didn’t remember them (who could forget Belinda Carlisle if you grew up with them as I did), but that their proper name is “The Go-Gos”.
I feel I’m in a rut advocating definite articles from last week’s LETTER N discussion.
“Who is Mr. Big in the crossword world?”
Merl Reagle. Totally. He makes it all look effortless, plus he was Simpsonized.
Nobody wants to hit the opera question out of the park? Sigh….. :-)
Figaro is a principal character in both Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” and Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.” The proliferation of LAS is from the aria “Largo al factotum” in the former. “Non PIU andrai” is from the latter. For Rossini Figaro is a baritone and for Mozart a bass-baritone or sometimes a true bass.
It’s not two different characters named Figaro, either — it’s the same guy, out of Beaumarchais’ “Figaro Trilogy” of plays. And strangely enough, while the Mozart opera predates the Rossini opera, the plot action in NOZZE DI FIGARO actually picks up after BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA ends.
We can only *pray* that you all can make use of this in another solving venture someday!!! Or if you end up on “Jeopardy.”
Amy, I posted my pet peeve about bowling on the NYT Blog. The establishment is the ALLEY. The surface you bowl on is the LANE.
I am pretty sure that only women can win bowling scholarships–undoubtedly due to Title IX restrictions. I do know that Nebraska is the perennial women’s power.
I represented Harvard in the intercollegiate bowling championships in 1971. The championship was held in NYC. I asked the athletic director if I could go and he basically said that he didn’t care. So much for bowling.
I had GOOBER. Did both Goober and Gomer (Jim Nabors) work at the gas station?
Tough puzzle for me.
steve, your beef is with the dictionary, not will shortz. quoth my oxford american:
alley: [with modifier] a long, narrow area in which such games as bowling are played
as far as actual usage goes, i agree with you on this one. but if it’s in the dictionary, it’s not really the constructor’s or editor’s fault for using it.
Hate to say it, since you all loved it, but this was a disaster for me, one of the first in ages I haven’t finished. I didn’t think of YOU RANG, had honestly never heard of GAYDAR (that’s a real idiom?) or HUGO BOSS (I tried Kate Moss), drew a complete blank on Louisa May Alcott (like most boys, never wanted to read even Little Women), didn’t remember the biblical reference, didn’t know what “dawg” means (not in dictionary), avoided the 2007 comedy like the plague, didn’t recognize “Your Lips Are Sealed,” don’t recognize “meet me at the COPA” (all I can think of maybe is “meet me at the fair”) … you name it. Think I could have got SUSSEX with some crossings, but had none but the last letter. A disaster for me.
Basically, got the NW (despite CHAPEAU seeming to me a foreign word), the topmost of the two diagonals, and the SE, leaving an awful lot open.
@John, you’re in the art world and you’ve never heard GAYDAR? Wow. It’s been around for at least a couple decades.