Thursday, 5/20/10

Fireball 6:28
NYT 5:08
LAT 3:36
Tausig untimed
CS 8:52 (Evad)/3:29 (Amy)

Jim Hilger’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 19The theme is unusual and fresh, and so is its layout. The four 15s form a square frame, which is easy enough to manage when they all have an N in the same two spots. Each theme answer takes the form of {A&B} {preposition} THE {X&Y}, with AND in lieu of each ampersand:

  • 17A. [Grocery leisure?] is R AND R (rest and recreation) IN THE A AND P (A&P’s a grocery chain). RANDRINTHEAANDP looks nonsensical all smashed together like that.
  • 63A. R AND D (research and development) ON THE B AND O (Baltimore & Ohio railroad) is clued as [Railroad’s work to produce new products?].
  • 3D. [Interview near an inn?] is Q AND A (questions and answers) BY THE B AND B (bed and breakfast).
  • 11D. [Soul music over a financial institution’s sound system?] is R AND B (rhythm and blues) AT THE S AND L (savings and loan).

A dozen or so clues:

  • 14A. An ORANG is an [Arboreal critter]. Don’t you think of critters as being considerably smaller than orangutans?
  • 15A. [Like many limericks: Abbr.] clues ANON. Aw, c’mon, use your real name, limerick writers!
  • 32A. OVA are [Some modern donations].
  • 42A. Don’t recall seeing this ETON clue before: [“A Yank at ___,” Mickey Rooney flick].
  • 47A. The EMU is a [Bird with two sets of eyelids]? I had no idea.
  • 57A. Another not-the-same-old clue. ELSA is the name of [Dr. Schneider of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”].
  • 71A. [They’re related] refers to the TALES one might relate. Good clue, eh?
  • 5D. [Wetlands fowl] has a hidden “is it singular or plural”—EGRETS, plural.
  • 6D. Who?? JAN is clued as [Swing bandleader Garber].
  • 12D, 13D. [Neighbor of China] clues both INDIA and NEPAL.
  • 25D. [Penn and others] clues IVIES. Universities! I had Sean Penn and Penn Station lodged in my head. And yes, that does lead to headaches.
  • 26D. Who?? (part 2). [Viennese-born composer ___ von Reznicek] clues EMIL. I hear he and Jan Garber were buddies.
  • 31D. [Young salmon] is SMOLT, and boy, that was not the 5-letter fish word I was thinking of. SMOLT is the stage after parr, if you’re keeping track of salmon growth and development.

I like the way the constructor mixes it up with new clues for old fill, and an interesting new twist on themes is always welcome.

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 16”

Region capture 16Good one this week—not so easy that I’m disappointed not to be made to work harder, yet not so hard that I pull a muscle in my brain. Mind you, I would welcome a Gordonian brain sprain, but if I can’t have that, then a more moderate degree of difficulty is OK.

What I did not know and needed all the crossings for: The palindromic Dead album AOXOMOXOA. Good music for axolotls, I’m sure.

Words I knew, but whose clues made me work:

  • 16a. [Chuff] clues BOOR. Checked one dictionary, and it pretends the only “chuff” it knows is the sound of a steam engine. What what? There’s “chuffed,” Britspeak for “pretty well pleased with myself.” Chuff = BOOR = mystery to me, and it’s not explained in Peter’s answer PDF.
  • 20a. [Game with 13 turns] is YAHTZEE. I never counted.
  • 42a. [Sinistrous] means ILL-OMENED. Don’t recall seeing “sinistrous” before, and I’m glad LEFT-HANDED wouldn’t fit.
  • 1d. [Ford product] is a MOVIE. I assumed that meant Harrison Ford; Peter meant director John Ford. What ever happened to England Dan and John Ford Coley?
  • 5d. I went too broad with [Some OPEC ministers], putting SHEIKHS. Turned out to be QATARIS.
  • 12d. Not only is it hard to spell BOYZ II MEN, the clue revealed nothing to me. [Group with the 2002 album “Full Circle”]? I’ll take your word for it.
  • 24d. [Last word of the title of the 1962 Best Picture] is ARABIA, as in Lawrence of. I misread the clue as looking for the last word spoken in the movie.

A few highlights:

  • 50d. [Perineum, in slang] clues TAINT. As in “’tain’t your ___, ’tain’t your ___.” I first learned this usage from a Mr. Show skit. You can watch it at YouTube if you confirm you’re over 18. Hah! I love the immortal words: “It’s insane, this guy’s taint!”
  • Do you know any kids in the 8–12 age range? Do they enjoy mysteries and/or puzzles? Would you like them to enjoy mysteries and/or puzzles? Then shop for Eric BERLIN‘s Winston Breen books. The second in the series is freshly available in paperback, meaning the hardcover is bargain-priced now. My son loved both books and encourages Eric to finish up book #3 as soon as possible. Now, it’s certainly possible to clue BERLIN as a city or as Irving Berlin, but chances are a high percentage of Fireball solvers know that crossword constructor Eric Berlin has written these novels, so [Creator of puzzle lover Winston Breen] is both fair and fresh.
  • 31a. [One who lives paycheck to paycheck] is a WAGE SLAVE.
  • 31d. [Impact sound] clues WHAM. Anyone else have “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” earworming through their brain right now? What’s that? You didn’t before but you do now? My work here is done.

Dave Eckert’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 17Hey! Congratulations on your publication debut, Dave! You may know this guy from the ACPT or from his commenting identity of “imsdave.”

I’m usually not a fan of this sort of theme, where the theme answers are the sorts of phrases that you’d expect to see as clues, and the clues are all the same word. It helps that the clue is a 7-letter word, so the theme entries aren’t things we’ve seen a zillion times before as clues. Here are four different [Seconds]:

  • 24a. EXTRA HELPINGS. My son polished off his chicken and pesto pasta for dinner and then do you know what he had for dessert? More of the pasta. He’s a big fan of this type of [Seconds].
  • 41a. INFERIOR GOODS, available on the cheap.
  • 55a. TICKS OF THE CLOCK. Like 17a, a sort of awkward-sounding phrase.


  • 21a. [Privacy metaphor] clues the CLOSET. Good clue.
  • 31a. [Enjoy New York, say?] means to READ a magazine. I was actually confused here, despite having bought and READ New York (and solved the Maura Jacobson crossword in it).
  • 50a. [They may be felt on the range] is not the clue for TA-TAS. No, it’s STETSONS, the hats that are made of felt. I was picturing someone burning their hand on an electric burner.
  • 6d. [Once, perhaps]  is ENOUGH. Jacqueline Susann would beg to differ.
  • 9d. [Its home is on the range] made me think of the deer and the antelope and a herd of bison, but this time I needed the other kind of range—where a SAUCEPAN goes. Damn you, Eckert! You got me twice with your “range” clues.
  • 26d. [Some like it hot] is about TEA.
  • 35d. [Rural route] clues DIRT ROAD. The clue’s wording had me thinking of things postal.
  • 40d. [Cinematic opening, but not ending?] is the SOFT C sound.

Excellent clueing, Dave. Keep ’em coming!

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “@ Play”

Region capture 18You can pronounce the puzzle’s title “at play,” and the theme entails wordplay with AT—an AT is inserted into familiar phrases to turn ’em into something entirely different. I like the results:

  • 18a. [Godless teller?] is a BANK ATHEIST.
  • 28a. [Gouger’s onslaughts?] are THUMB ATTACKS. Ouch!
  • 43a. [Do a quick Erev Yom Kippur, show your face for Kol Nidre, no muss no fuss?] clues ATONE AND DONE. What exactly does “one and done” mean?
  • 57a. [TJ Maxx, e.g.?] is an ATTIRE CHAIN.

Favorite clues and fill:

  • 32a. [Loaf reliably available at cousin Lotte’s house when we used to go up to Cleveland for brunch] is a RYE bread. Ben’s autobiographical clues are a hoot. Something you don’t see in every crossword, right?
  • 2d. [Tarantino, notably] is a CINEPHILE.
  • 10d. [Micturates] clues GOES. I, of course, had PEES first. (Also in the bodily fluid verb family: 11d. [Expectorates]/SPITS.)
  • 34d. The ALGONQUIN [___ Round Table (erstwhile New York City intelligentsia collective)] is no more. You know what, dear readers? You’d fit right in there. Is there a blog whose readers are smarter than the lot of you?
  • 39d. [CNBC show much criticized by Jon Stewart in early 2009] is Jim Cramer’s MAD MONEY. Not to be confused with CNN’s Cross/Fire, which Jon lambasted a few years earlier.
  • 42d. [Being loud in bed?] clues SNORING. “Are you loud in bed?” “Oh, yeah! You better believe it. Ask my neighbors.”
  • 46d. KVASS is a great word, isn’t it? It’s a [Mildly alcoholic Russian drink made from fermented bread (better than it sounds)]. Really? Is it better than the prison wine the Steve, Don’t Eat It guy concocted?
  • 54d. For my money, AH ME and OH ME are among the worst fill we see in today’s crosswords. Worse than NLER and ALER. Who says “Oh, me”?or “Ah, me”? Nobody, that’s who. So if you’re gonna put it in your puzzle, at least have a little fun with it. A clue like [“Fuck,” a whole lot more politely] does the trick.

Updated Thursday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Inside Jobs”—Evad’s review

With the unemployment rate nudging 10% again, a lot of folks are out looking for work. . . let’s see if we can find some jobs in today’s CS/WaPo offering.


Your theme entries:

  • “Realm of the Vikings” is not NFC NORTH but NORTH ATLANTIC.
  • ALPHA TEST is a “Shakedown that catches bugs in-house.” Much better in-house than to be discovered after release.
  • WORTH A TRY. I had the hardest time parsing this, is it WORTHATRY (like IDOLATRY)? Is it WORT HATRY? Finally hit on it being 3 words.
  • “1955 Hitchcock caper” is TO CATCH A THIEF.
  • And pulling it all together, 64-Down is “Job, figuratively, or what is inside each of this puzzle’s 4 longest entries” HAT. HAT as job seems a bit old-school to me, I imagine it dates back to when someone could guess the job you had by the type of hat you wore. Me, I wear no hats.

I know it’s been said many times before, but Mr. Klahn has such a unique (and fun) approach to cluing–so many cute nuggets spread throughout the puzzle. Here are just a few of my faves:

  • Two entries for “Fooforaw”: HOOHA and TODO. HOOHA makes me giggle.
  • “Audience for Bob Hope” (GIS) followed immediately by “Bobbing hope” (APPLE)
  • The rhyming “Mammal like a camel” for ALPACA.
  • “For the Mass masses” is LAIC.
  • “All shook up” (AGHAST) followed directly by “All lit up” (AGLOW).
  • “Spider Man Parker” (PETER) next to “Be a Nosy Parker” (PRY).

And things I learned:

  • “Edward Bear” – our “Teddy” bear is a nickname for Edward (as in the late senator from my fair Commonwealth of Mass.), which was AA Milne’s original name for POOH.
  • “The Horse, He’s Sick” is by Dadaist Max ERNST. Let’s see what that looks like:

    I’m not a vet, but I think it’s safe to agree that “horse” is unwell.
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13 Responses to Thursday, 5/20/10

  1. Gareth says:

    Most of the puzzle in sixish minutes, but working out the last few letters of some of the theme entries and their surrounding words was tough! The BY of 3D and especially The B and O of 63A and S and L of 11D were complete mysteries and they literally could’ve been anything – guess that’s why this was on Thurday.

    Congrats on the debut, Dave. Agree that the 2 “range” clues were the major highlights – both brilliant!

  2. ArtLvr says:

    Really liked your LAT puzzle, Dave! The different kinds of “seconds” were spot on… tho I think the Sears Tower may have changed its name. Amy?

  3. Amy Reynaldo says:

    ArtLvr, it’s now called the Willis Tower, but Willis can’t change history and say that it built the building. That was SEARS.

  4. Will Nediger says:

    I love that 1-Across in the Fireball is from the recent How I Met Your Mother episode featuring Will Shortz.

  5. Peter says:

    One and Done = reference to either a NFL or NCAA basketball tournament team that loses the first playoff game it plays, ending their season.

  6. Jan (danjan) says:

    Congrats, Dave – great debut! I loved the theme, and the clues were well done.

    I also got a kick out of the Fireball 1-Across. The Westport (CT) Library is honoring Will Shortz next Thursday – I hope they’re planning to serve MINI QUICHE!

  7. Elaine in Arkansas says:

    IMS DAVE! Really enjoyed the puzzle– had to back up a couple of times, as I had LOOT and THANKFUL in the #1 positons. Also tried DUEL ING. I need to reform, get over that confident feeling (also known as ‘the false Aha!.’) Congratulations, and here’s hoping for more.

  8. joon says:

    congrats dave. i met you at the 2009 westport tournament, no? anyway, i liked your puzzle. theme didn’t wow me, but the fill was very clean and the cluing was excellent. STETSONS was particularly delicious.

    you know it’s a strange day in puzzleworld when the easiest of the six daily puzzles is the one by bob klahn. i had problems all over with everything, especially the theme in the NYT and the AOXOMOXOA region of the fireball. yikes. i also had no clue about TAINT, but now i know what the hell ryan was talking about with his smirking TAINT references last time it was in the NYT. not that i particularly wanted to know, mind you, although i did already know what the perineum was.

    ONE AND DONE can also refer to basketball players who attend college for the minimum 1 year before declaring for the NBA draft, like john wall or derrick rose.

  9. imsdave says:

    Thanks to all for the kind words.

    Joon, we did indeed meet at the Westport tourney in 2009. I remember overhearing your name mentioned and was delighted to be able to thank you for the help you provided me (through this site) with a problem I was having with a rebus in Across Lite.

    The highlight of having a puzzle published so far is getting a “Damn you, Eckert!” from Amy.

  10. John Haber says:

    I thought the Times was hard for a Thursday, but a really nice theme. The SE was last to fall as my brain only slowly retrieved the B&O railroad, and a stab at something other than ORANG slowed me a bit, but worth it. It was BANDB, after struggling to figure out how to deal with the DB at the end, that first gave me the theme.

    I had a different take on the clues for EMU and ETON, though. Not that it was nice to have fresh clues for old fill, but that the strain of finding odd clues showed how stale those entries are. I guess the bell town is also definitely crosswordese.

  11. David H says:

    WE had L & N instead of B & O for a long time. We later realized that this came from “O Brother Where Art Though”, when Ulysses McGill was confronting his daughter about being hit by a train – “Blooey – nothin but a grease spot on the L & N!”

    That was the Louisville and Nashville line, unlike the B & O was the Baltimore and Ohio.

  12. Mark says:

    One and Done is often used by people trying to convince others to go have a drink with them. They promise “One drink and then we’re done”. It never stops at one drink though.

  13. Gareth says:

    Re CHUFF – My concise OED (SA edition, but it’s still British) doesn’t have chuff, but my Webster’s New World does bizarrely – “[Brit dial] a boor; a churl.” British DIALECT – Yowzer!

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