Tuesday, 6/8/10

Jonesin’ 3:45
NYT 3:34
LAT 3:03
CS 6:24 (Evad)

Peter Collins’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 22I didn’t make any sense out of the theme while solving. Song titles and bands, cross-references galore? I more or less worked crossings enough to finish the theme answers without actually studying the clues. Let’s unravel it all:

  • 24a. THE MAMAS are [With 41- and 54-Across, group with a 1967 ballad version of 39-/41-/42-Across].
  • 39a. [With 41- and 42-Across, 1964 Beatles hit] clues TWIST.
  • 41a. AND is the middle of the 39/41/42 song title “Twist and Shout” as well as the middle of the 24/41/54 group. [See 39-Across] is its clue.
  • 42a. SHOUT is also clued [See 39-Across].
  • 54a. The end of the 24/41/54 band is THE PAPAS. They get [See 24-Across] as their x-ref.
  • 40d. [With 9-Down, group with a 1962 hit version of 39-/41-/42-Across] clues THE ISLEY. Three THEs in the theme entries today.
  • 9d. [See 40-Down]—The Isley BROTHERS.

My overall assessment of this theme is “meh.” Had no idea The Mamas and the Papas and the Isley Brothers recorded the song too. My god, a ballad version of that energetic song? I don’t want to ruin Beatles memories by seeking out the Ms&Ps version. It’s weird to have that AND hooking up with the song title and one of the bands. It’s weird that only the non-Beatles groups make it into the grid. It’s weird that BROTHERS comes before THE ISLEY. The cross-referencing is contagious—the puzzle has a pox of x-refs. Look at 24a, for example: Five other clues are mentioned. Five! If Peter and Will’s purpose was to provide an in-joke “up yours” to people who loathe cross-referenced clues, the puzzle is a success. But while I don’t rant about x-refs, I wasn’t entertained here. How about you? Did you take the time to digest all the theme clues and put things together in the right order as you went along?

Favorite answers/clues:


  • 36a. Classic! A STONER is [One who can’t keep off the grass?].
  • 59a. FAIR SEX means [Women, quaintly, with “the”]. Are you a man in a relationship with a woman? Have you sometimes found yourself thinking that your lady is PMSing? Have I got news for you, Per Deb Amlen’s funny new book (now available at Amazon and everywhere fine books are sold) It’s Not PMS, It’s You, the problem is you, sir. It’s a highly entertaining read!
  • 72a. X-RAY is a [Look inside?]. Gotta love question-marked clues sneaking in on a Tuesday.
  • 2d. [The 6 in 6/8/10, e.g.] is the MONTH, provided you’re using American-style dates. 6/8 is June 8 here, not 6 August.
  • 4d. NEAR MISS, great fill. [Close call].

Things a lot of people may be Googling:

  • 63a. [12:30 a.m. or p.m., on a ship] is ONE BELL.
  • 65a. BAST is [Cord material]. Bast is fibrous material from a plant’s phloem, in case you were wondering. That clears it all up, right?
  • 55d. HOSEA is the [Old Testament propher who married a harlot].

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “All the Right Angles”

Region capture 20As any longtime crossword solver knows, a clue mentioning a right angle (or a building addition) points you to ELL. Here, the right angles are ELLs added to the end of four phrases to change ’em up, turning the last word into a famous person’s last name:

  • 20a. [General Colin’s nickname in the dynamite business?] is BOOM BOOM POWELL. “Boom Boom Pow” is a recent Black Eyed Peas song (the link is to the video). Does it bother anyone else that the band doesn’t hyphenate as Black-Eyed Peas?
  • 34a. [“The Office” actor Steve made up of many parts?] clues a HYBRID CARELL.
  • 42a. SHOW ME HOWELL is clued [Thurston of “Gilligan’s Island” moving to Missouri?].
  • 56a. [Soundgarden frontman Chris crushed by the other team?] is CREAMED CORN.

Good stuff beyond the theme:

  • 5a. MR. T gets a current clue: [His famous role is being reprised in 2010]. The A-Team will soon be a movie. SNL is also clued freshly: [Betty White recently hosted it].
  • 18a. [It may stick out of one’s pants] is a risqué-sounding clue for an innocuous answer: a SHIRTTAIL.
  • 45a. Aww, boo! SINBAD, who has been warm and funny in some roles (…long ago), was named [“The Worst Comedian of All Time,” according to Maxim]. Can’t say I look to Maxim as a taste-maker.
  • 61a. C’mon, who doesn’t love a little crosswordese geography mash-up? APIA, SAMOA, is the [Polynesian capital].
  • 19d. Fresh entry: the TWO BALL is a [Blue solid on a pool table].

Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 21Barry’s more often a themeless constructor, but I like what he’s done with a Tuesday theme. It’s all about that acrid brown beverage so many of you people love:

  • 17a. [Program that uses certain Sun Microsystems software] is a JAVA APPLICATION.
  • 25a. [Messy contest in a pit] is MUD WRESTLING.
  • 42a. [Al Gore’s 2000 running mate] is cuppa JOE LIEBERMAN.
  • 56a. [Living room reading that includes this puzzle’s theme] clues COFFEE TABLE BOOK.

Round-up of eight clues:

  • 5a. [One of the four chief angels] is URIEL. Not an answer we see too often.
  • 16a. [Super Bowl held in MCMLXXXVIII] is XXII. I halfheartedly eyeballed the year and decided it was in the 1990s and must be 40-something, or XL**. Only put in the X, which turns out to be the beginning of XXII, or 22. The year is…let’s see…1988. Yeah, I don’t do Super Bowl Roman numeral math.
  • 23a. Can anyone tell me why I fill in FIA when I encounter the clue [__ Fáil: Irish coronation stone]? The answer is LIA. I thought maybe FIA was part of the legislature name, but what I was thinking of is Dáil Éireann. (Sigh.)
  • 59a. NORIA is a [Bucket wheel used for irrigation]. Whoa! Kickin’ it old school with the crosswordese! See also: OSSA, OGEE.
  • 9d. LACROSSE is a [Sport with sticks]. Saw a girl with a Chicago public high school lacrosse team shirt today.
  • 40d. [Panthere relative] is un TIGRE, French for “tiger.”
  • 41d. To [Have a cow] is, quite literally, to CALVE. “Don’t calve, man” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
  • 50d. Does anyone who didn’t study a lot of chemistry like an answer like ALKYD? It’s an [Adhesive resin], they say. Not a favorite answer for me.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Command Performance”—Evad’s review

I was just going to have a one-word commentary here, the answer to 46-Across: ASSLIKE (“Resembling a pack animal”), but you came here for more than that, didn’t you?

So we have a quip puzzle today. First one of the 3 weeks of CS puzzles I’ve blogged. I do like STEPHEN WRIGHT a lot (“Comic of said quip”) and this is a pretty good question:


Interesting, too, in a daily puzzle to have two 10-letter across entries which have nothing to do with the theme (that I can tell): MANAGERIAL and LEGISLATOR. Coupla strange partials: I SAY A (as in “___ Little Prayer” by Dionne Warwick) and IN HOT (“___ water (on the ropes)”…I think of the phrase meaning to be in trouble for something you’ve done, not defenseless as “on the ropes” implies).

I leave you with this question: “Do Spanish ice skaters talk about doing figure OCHOS?” Tal vez.

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16 Responses to Tuesday, 6/8/10

  1. Re the NYT theme – meh indeed. Or worse, since cross-referencing irks me. Especially when I am on the outside looking in at the groups and the song. Just not my cup of tea.

  2. Jeffrey says:

    In a weird coincidence, Marvin Isley died today.

  3. Jeff Louie says:

    I think the NYT is nice. I thought it was cool when I filled in “Brothers” after having already filled in Mamas and Papas and seeing the relationship in retrospect. The clues make it look confusing, intentionally so I’d say, but as soon as you look at the grid it all makes sense instinctively. Also, the Isley Brothers version is the original. The Beatles version was just a cover – the inclusion of the Beatles in the grid would make no sense.

  4. Deb Amlen says:

    Should I make the check out to “Orange” or “Crossword Fiend”? ;)

  5. Red Dog says:

    I’m not normally one to complain about themes but I found the NYT concept pretty lame. Instructions were too complicated and the payoff too weak. Except for the awesome “stoner” clue, it was a C-. You just know it’s going to be a bad puzzle when A1 is a crosswordese crime scene like “Muscat’s place.”

  6. Wes says:

    The Isley Brothers’ version was the first well-known version, but it was also a cover. The original version was by the Top Notes and was not successful.

  7. Amy Reynaldo says:

    It was only now that I realized the “6/8/10” with that mystifying series of sequential even numbers is not only a date, but today’s date. Durrrr…

  8. ArtLvr says:

    I’m with Retired_Chemist… Not my cup of tea, and I dislike x-refs. HOSEA having married a harlot was my only smile in this NYT. The CS was a tad cuter, some BLAHS, and Barry Silk’s LAT didn’t tickle me either, though a bit meatier with a TIGRE, CALVE and an OXTAIL, plus LOOFAS and MOOLAH.

  9. Meem says:

    Apparently I’m in the minority. Thought NYT was fun for a rainy morning. Started with the downs which gave me The Mamas right away which took care of cross-ref angst. Admire that PC was able to make the theme work with graceful symmetry.

  10. Zulema says:

    Muscat a “crime scene”?

  11. ktd says:

    Bueller? Bueller? I can’t think of Twist and Shout without envisioning Matthew Broderick on a parade float

  12. joon says:

    i vehemently disagree with red dog about OMAN, which is perfectly good fill. i mean, it’s a country. everybody knows it. putting BAST or NORIA at 1-across would be an immediate turnoff, but OMAN is just OMAN. you can’t blame it for having common letters.

    on the other hand, i didn’t much care for the theme. actually, all four puzzles today had themes that left me cold or worse, although in the case of the LAT, it’s not barry’s fault; i recently sent in a crossword with a coffee theme and now i’m a little sad that even if it does get published, it will be about as fresh as yesterday’s roast.

    on the bright side, STONER clue = A+.

  13. Karen says:

    Everytime I hear of Deb’s book now, I remember that Merl Regal had an anagram of the title.

  14. *David* says:

    If you would’ve just put ASSLIKE that would’ve been…

    Interesting brown color for the uhh coffee, Amy…

  15. Deb Amlen says:

    Karen, Merl’s anagram was “Smutty Positions”, which he was kind enough to shout at me across the lobby of the Brooklyn Marriott. One of the best and most unusual gifts I’ve ever been given :)

  16. nicholas says:

    on Jonesin:

    I was a little disappointed by [Major event for a law student]: LSAT

    obviously, the LSAT is what a student takes in hopes of BECOMING a law student.

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