Wednesday, 6/2/10

NYT 3:34
LAT 3:31
Onion 3:27
CS 4:58 (Evad)

I’ve been trying to get a jump on the blogging each evening, writing up as many puzzles as I can before bedtime. Dang! Tonight, I spent two hours watching Wipeout and cackling with my kid and better half. My brain has, I believe, shut down for the night.

Oh, who am I kidding? The brain left this afternoon when I purchased a graduation card that plays Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration”…loud. (In my defense, the song is awesome and the recipient’s getting a master’s degree from the University of Chicago, so there’s logic to the card choice.)

Adam Cohen’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 1After getting the first two theme answers, the other two weren’t at all hard to get. The theme is fishing equipment, found at the end of these phrases:

  • 20A. LIGHTNING ROD is clued as a [Metaphorical target of attacks].
  • 35A. CAPTAIN HOOK in Peter Pan is the [Captor of Wendy Darling].
  • 42A. The old show WHAT’S MY LINE is the [Game show originally titled “Occupation Unknown”].
  • 56A. The VIRGINIA REEL is a non-square square [Dance with fiddlers and a caller]. Gah! Flashbacks to grade school gym class.

Most of the theme clues really aren’t so Monday-obvious. But once you have a ROD and a HOOK, you’re left looking for other fishing gear. I feel like we’ve seen a couple themes that use HOOK, LINE, and SINKER, but that can’t be, can it? SINKER doesn’t lend itself to that. Too bad the ROD and REEL don’t appear together, and the HOOK and LINE—those logical pairings would ramp up the thematic elegance.

And now, six clues:

  • Who says “CEASE!” (54D) when they mean [“Give it a rest!”]?
  • 16A. [Holder in the Obama cabinet] clues ERIC. [Holder in a cabinet] would be good ‘n’ confusing, wouldn’t it? Not fair game for a Wednesday, though.
  • 62A. A DIGIT is [One of 101 in a googol]. It’s 1 plus 100 zeros.
  • 37D. Weird plural ALIMONIES gets clued misleadingly as [Severance package payments], as if the employer who lays you off pays you alimony.
  • 6D. [Compensation during a work stoppage] is STRIKE PAY.
  • 34D. [What a shut-out team may lack] is GOALS. This doesn’t work for baseball, tennis, or football. But it’s good for hockey. (Go, Blackhawks!)

Jack McInturff’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 2Four theme entries begin with words that can be followed by “top.” Ergo, the grand unifying answer is THE FOUR TOPS (62a. [“I Can’t Help Myself” singers (1965), and hint to puzzle theme found in beginnings of answers to starred clues]). Yeah, that works.

  • 17A: [*Hooch from the hinterlands] is MOUNTAIN DEW. I had no idea the soda pop was named after moonshine. (Mountain top.)
  • 29A: [*Spears or Twain] is a POP SINGER. With P*PSI in place, I was thisclose to going for PEPSI-something here. (Pop top.)
  • 39A: [*Steve Forbes proposed a 17% one] clues a FLAT TAX. (Flattop.)
  • 48A: [*Place to get tickets] is the BOX OFFICE. (Box top. You know what? This morning, I opened a new box of Frosted Flakes, and the damn bag ripped downwards instead of where it’s glued at the top. Luckily, I had duct tape handy.)

And now, eight clues:

  • 20A: [Sends again, as a package] clues RESHIPS. I would think this answer stinks, but a few months ago, I actually had to reship a FedEx package when the first round of shipping didn’t take. (I forgot to include the account number. And it took FedEx a week to get the overnight package back to me! They had my address, they have trucks. I don’t see what the hold-up was.) It looks like a bogus word, but it does have its applications, sadly.
  • 26A: [Like a case before the court] clues AT BAR. Alternate clue: [Where caveman order martini].
  • 46A: [Hid, cardsharp-style] is the clue for PALMED. Yes, “cardsharp” is correct. My dictionary lists a couple “also” spellings: “cardsharper” and “card shark.” Really, you can’t go wrong here.
  • Up, up, and away! 67A: [Exalt] means LIFT UP and 6D: [Err] means SLIP UP.
  • 28D: [Where the 2009 World Series was won] is the BRONX. I, for one, pay next to no attention to who wins which year’s World Series. These clues remind me of the pope-or-Roman-emperor answers clued by year.
  • 49D: [In fine __: fit] FETTLE pleases me. There’s something about FETTLE.
  • 54D: [Knucklehead] clues STUPE, short for “stupid.”

Matt Gaffney’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Region capture 3Matt reinterprets the business-meeting lingo “low-hanging fruit” as actual fruits hanging low—the two theme entries instruct you to FIND SIX PIECES OF / LOW-HANGING FRUIT, and we have PLUM, ORANGE, KIWI, MANGO, STRAWBERRY, and LIME anchored to the bottom of the grid. The sextet are clued inedibly: Professor Plum, Orange County, New Zealand’s Kiwis, Chris Kattan’s “Mango” character, Darryl Strawberry, and the color lime green. I kinda wish LIME had been clued as [The Third Man character Harry] so all six fruits would be capitalized.

Hey! What’s an Onion puzzle doing being easier than the Wednesday NYT and LAT crosswords? I’m confused.

Freshest fill: BANKSTER, or [Portmanteau for a J.P. Morgan boss, e.g.]. That’s banker and gangster in a mash-up.

Weirdest-looking answer: TOO BE completing a Bible quote: [“You ___ patient and stand firm”; James 5:8].
Updated Wednesday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Crossword for Carnivores”—Evad’s review

Meat-eaters rule today with Mr. Ross’s punny theme entries:

  • “Carnivore’s comment about what to eat during bad weather?” is ANY PORK IN A STORM – “port” becomes “pork.” Hopefully the electricity is on during this storm, or that pork wouldn’t be fit to eat.
  • “Carnivore’s favorite game show?” is VEAL OF FORTUNEwheel becomes veal. (As an aside, I believe Dracula would pronounce the word wheel like this.) Our local Whole Foods sells veal for practically a fortune; wish it had been clued that way.
  • Ah, the STAKE RACES debate rages on; here, we have “What are served to carnivores at a Triple Crown race?” or BELMONT STEAKS.
  • And finally, “What carnivores like to do after a hard day at the office?” or COME HOME TO ROASTroost becomes roast. Sounds more like what a family comes home to when their A/C is out.

A somewhat uneven theme for me: two are types of meats and two are cuts of meat (or fish, as in salmon steaks). I assume HAIL TO THE BEEF (“How a carnivore says grace?”) was left on the editing room floor? (Probably with good reason!)

Let’s see what were the side courses of this meat-filled meal (apologies in advance to our blog hostess who eschews meat in general):

  • For “Like the moon,” I tried CRESCENT before CRATERED. Did anyone else fall in this trap?
  • Enjoyed the clue “Pen pals?” for FELONS. Many puzzles use slang terms for prison as theme fodder–stir, pen, slammer, can, pokey, clink, etc. show up in various permutations.
  • PHOTO OPS (“PR events”) looks pretty funny mushed together, doesn’t it? If there were something called a PHOT, this is what we would say when it spilled something. (That is assuming it also had an opposable thumb to grasp something that could spill.)

That’s probably enough silliness from me today. Janie returns tomorrow and will finish off the week.

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12 Responses to Wednesday, 6/2/10

  1. Aaron says:

    That lower left-hand corner sucked.

  2. Wes says:


  3. Gareth says:

    LAT: Liked the theme revealer – I’m a sucker for theme’s with old pop music… And there’s a second nod in the shape of The BOX(TOPS). Never heard of POP(TOPS), guessing it’s an American thing…

    NYT: I don’t know about sucking but it did take me an extra 45 odd seconds to dredge ZUNI from my brain. Had ?IP and ?ON left crossing it but those two clues meant nothing to me! The rest of the puzzle I’m kind of neutral about. I agree the clue for CEASE was weird.

  4. David H says:

    I knew neither the tribe nor the garlicky sauce, so I had to guess a letter and I was wrong.

    Is it nit-picky to question the “Half a sawbuck” clue for “Abe”? In the spirit of consistency in first/last names, etc from clue to answer, I had “Fin” in there. Even though the amount of money was the same, I would think that an Abe would be a half a Hamilton (though that’s not really “in the language” as much as a Jackson or a Franklin, is it?”). Just curious.

  5. Jeffrey says:

    Another complaint about the lower left.

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I second the remarks about the ZIP corner (ZIP’s clue was hard, and the plausibility of HOPI slowed things down), and I too had FIN before ABE. It’s all about the Benjamins much more than “the Abes.”

  7. Rob says:

    June 2 is Milo O’Shea’s birthday.

  8. ktd says:

    Hear hear for the lower left! I also put in HOPI and then crossed it with PIU for “___ troppo”. I stalled trying to think of a word __UG to describe the engine noise, before restarting the corner with NON troppo which led to ZUNI, etc. According to xwordinfo, URI has been used 94 times in NYT puzzles since 1993, so I guess it’s probably worth committing to memory. Can anyone explain what ZIP + 4 means?

    The clue “What a shut-out team may lack” doesn’t sound quite right for GOALS, because the very definition of shut-out means you didn’t score. But I guess there’s a secondary way of connecting the clue and answer that distinguishes goals from runs, touchdowns, etc.

    You know what other game has goals? Soccer (that’s football to Gareth). World Cup in nine days!

  9. Amy Reynaldo says:

    ZIP + 4 is your ZIP code with the extra four digits after the dash. The extra numbers identify your location within your ZIP code more precisely.

    A shut-out team may lack touchdowns or runs, or it may lack goals. Depending on the sport.

    URI has other clues—[Mentalist Geller] and [Ocean State sch.], for example, for Uri Geller and the University of Rhode Island.

  10. ktd says:

    Wow, ZIP + 4 seems very obvious now. I’m trying to imagine where I might have encountered this phrase–definitely never in speech, probably only on a form somewhere (most just ask for ZIP). I really thought this was some weird/ironic way of saying “0 + 4”.

  11. cyberdiva says:

    Well, I’m usually sitting here reading other people’s accounts of how they solved puzzles I couldn’t even start, so please forgive me if I say that I found Wednesday’s NYT surprisingly easy. I didn’t finish it in Amy’s kind of time, but probably 3 X Amy, which almost NEVER happens. I too had HOPI, but then I saw ____ + 4 and knew that had to be ZIP, which led to ZUNI, and the rest just fell into place.

    Probably the gods will get back at me tomorrow by making me unable to finish Thursday’s, but for the rest of today, I’m feeling good.

  12. ArtLvr says:

    Just did the latest Fireball — I won’t spoil it for anyone, but it was amusing and not too hard…

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