Wednesday, 6/9/10

Onion 5:20
LAT 4:02
NYT 3:23
CS 4:52 (Evad)

Gary J. Whitehead’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 23Aww, who stole Gary’s middle initial from the byline?

How appropriate for the guy whose last name is Whitehead (color + noun) to concoct this theme:

  • 34a. REDSTARTS are birds, [Boldly patterned warblers…and a hint to 17-, 24-, 50- and 59-Across].
  • 17a. Blood red is a color, and BLOOD MONEY is [Part of a drug lord’s income, maybe]. You know those overlong New Yorker articles? They recently had one about the drug lords in Mexico. I skimmed bits of it. Part of me wishes the magazine would select for the long form mainly topics of no interest to me. I’d save so much time.
  • 24a. CHERRY CRUSH is a [Fruity soda]. The only Crushes I see are Orange and, less often, Grape. Red pop seems to be more the bailiwick of store brands.
  • 50a. RUBY TUESDAY is a [Rolling Stones hit of 1967]. Infinitely better reference than the “casual dining” chain.
  • 59a. [Certain mason] with a small M is a BRICKLAYER. My grandpa came from a long line of bricklayers, but none of his five daughters followed him into the trade. He built the house my mom grew up in, I think. (Oh, hi, Mom!)

The 3s, 4s, and 5s don’t do much for me (When do they ever? Well, maybe the clue for 19a: NO-NO, [Burping in public, e.g.]. Too bad COOL PARLOR TRICK won’t fit), but I do like those corners packed with 7s. Among my faves are these:

  • 1d. [Insignia] can be either singular or plural. Here it’s a stealthy plural clueing EMBLEMS.
  • 11d. OROTUND is a cool word meaning [Like a good speaking voice]. More closely related to “rotund” than to “orate”: it comes from the Latin ore rotundo, “with rounded mouth.”
  • 13d. USO SHOW is clued as [Base entertainment], which could also be a clue for BURPING LOUDLY.
  • 38d. I love [Author Zora Neale ___ of the Harlem Renaissance]/HURSTON. Their Eyes Were Watching God will break your heart. Did you have a crush on Teacake too?
  • 39d. Nice to see all of IN UTERO instead of the [In ___]/UTERO combo we see more often. [Not yet born] works.
  • 43d. ZEPHYRS are [Gentle breezes]. Do you like the soughing of the zephyrs?
  • 45d. I know enough baseball that if the answer to a clue like [World Series-winning manager of 1981 and 1988] starts with an L, I can fill in LA****A. I needed the crossings to distinguish between LASORDA and LARUSSA.

Caleb Madison’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Region capture 24The Onion puzzle team’s got a pinch-hitter this week, teen constructing phenom Caleb Madison. I’ve seen Caleb’s puzzles for his school and for DGA Quarterly, and the boy has skillz. The theme’s casing is the final theme answer, SAUSAGE FEST, which is a phrase recently evoked by a photo of San Francisco puzzlers—it was Andrea Carla Michaels and about eight men. Sausage fest! So much of the crossword-constructing community is sausage-festy, alas. Anyway:

  • 56a. [Party with too many dudes… or a hint to this puzzle’s theme] is SAUSAGE FEST. The other theme entries end with sausages.
  • 18a. DOWNWARD DOG is one [Yoga pose].
  • 24a, 26a. [With 26-Across, “Mad Men” creator] clues MATTHEW / WEINER. Got this one from the crossings.
  • 35a. PAUL FRANK is a [Fashion designer who created Julius the Monkey]. Say what? Never heard of him, and I haven’t been seeing the monkey apparel at my kid’s school. If you like slow-loading Flash sites that play music without asking, click to see Frank’s designs.
  • 49a, 51a. [With 51-Across, 1976 Ramones hit] is BEAT ON / THE BRAT. I don’t know the song. With those lyrics, I wonder if they ever play this song as Milwaukee Brewers games. They have sausage mascot races and the bratwurst doesn’t always win.

Five more clues:

  • 15a. Retro, sure, but DR. HOOK remains a cool entry. He is or was [Leader of the band the Medicine Show].
  • 22a. KOOL is a menthol cigarette and a [Gang leader of the 70s and 80s?]. Here’s the “Celebration” video. I gave a friend a graduation card last weekend that plays a snippet of that song—and loud. Scared the crap out of myself when I opened the card to sign it.
  • 38a. Is this about hardware? STDS is clued wordily, with [Problems that may result from screwing studs without using some kind of barrier device: Abbr.].
  • 47a. [He played Charles] means Ray Charles and Jamie FOXX. Not to be confused with MR. FOX, the animated [Character voiced by George Clooney in 2009].
  • 1d. “MY HUMPS” is the [2005 song with the lyric “I mix your milk with my cocoa puff”].

Updated Wednesday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “It’s the Pits”—Evad’s review

cs69 A puzzle devoted to Olives, Axilla, La Brea or silents star Zasu? (The last is spelled Pitts, but of course you knew that!) Nope, we have three 15-letter occupations that work in pits:

  • COMMODITY TRADER – I bet you didn’t know that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange was first called the Chicago Butter and Egg Board. It sounds much more important now. Pork bellies anyone?
  • BLACK JACK DEALER (crossed nicely by an ACE at the first C)- here the “pit” is the casino pit managed by a “pit boss.” I wonder if a pit bull keeps unruly gamers in line?
  • ORCHESTRA LEADER – ah, the famous orchestra pit, staple of operas and musicals.

Pretty fun theme here, let’s see what else we can find hiding among the nooks and crannies:

    Enjoyed the ZED shared between UZI (“Israeli-designed weapon”) and OZARK (“Missouri range”)

  • We had ASSLIKE earlier in the week, today we just have a little ASS (“Long-eared equine”) on its own
  • Two long down entries both entertainment-related: WOODY ALLEN (“Bette Midler’s ‘Scenes from a Mall’ costar”–with all his directorial props, he’s clued here as someone’s costar?) and STAGE ACTOR (“Cast member of a play”)

So, it’s time for me to EXIT (“Dead end’s lack”); janie will be with you full-time beginning tomorrow. See you in the comments!

Todd McClary’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 25The theme is things with PEDALS, and it struck me as fairly dry material.

  • 17a. [Fitness center array] includes STATIONARY BIKES, treadmills, elliptical machines, and stair climbers. I hate them all.
  • 26a. [Instruments that often have chord buttons] are ELECTRIC ORGANS. When I was a kid, we had a miniature electric organ. The color: harvest gold, I think. Or was it beige?
  • 43a. [Seamstresses’ aids] are SEWING MACHINES. I was looking for something more like a pincushion or etui, but sewing machines are surely much more help.
  • 56a. [Birdlike crafts for lake rides] can be plain or SWAN PADDLE BOATS. Chicago’s Lincoln Park Lagoon has the swans.
  • 65a. [Parts of 17-, 26-, 43- and 56-Across] are PEDALS.

What else of note is in this puzzle?

  • 15a. [Seat of Georgia’s Floyd County] is ROME. I call a foul. A town of 35,000 is not an enhancement to a crossword, especially when there’s a more famous Rome out there. I made an exception for last Sunday’s Post Puzzler, because Mississippi’s Hernando of De Soto County is a cute pair. If there were a famous person named Floyd Rome, this clue would be good.
  • 42a. [Head-turning swimwear] clues THONG. Yes, I often need to turn my head away from a person sporting a thong.
  • 47a. [Numbers in photo album captions] mystified me. AGES! Of course. “Grandma’s’ birthday party, 2004. Todd (4), Caleb (6), Patrick (7), Gary (2).”
  • 64a. The last name of [Anna of “Fringe”] is TORV. I’m not sure the T crossing is obvious enough for the masses who have never heard of actress Anna Torv. I’ve heard of her, but needed lots of crossings for 41d: GIGA PET, or [Compu Kitty or Digital Doggie].
  • 5d. [Hilltop] clues HEIGHTS. The Chicago area has suburbs called Chicago Heights and Arlington Heights, but there are really no discernible HEIGHTS. What passes for Heights here surely look pancake-flat to people from more mountainous regions. This is my excuse for why the clue was little help to me.
  • 10d. Not crazy about the WEB PAGE clue, [E-tailer’s creation]. I was expecting the answer to be specific to sales websites.
  • 42d. [Monopoly token] clues THIMBLE. See? That’s what I was thinking of for a seamstress’s  aid.
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28 Responses to Wednesday, 6/9/10

  1. Shely Cohen says:

    Fun puzzle, but I have to point out (no pun intended) that a [flexible blade] should be FOIL, which has a rectangular cross-section, making it much more flexible than the triangular cross-section of an EPEE.

  2. foodie says:

    Sailed through this until I circled back to the REDSTARTS/THE Y Crossing. I did not know the name, REDSTART for a bird nor could I parse “THE Y”. Just stared at it for the longest time before I tumbled to it.

    I think red is my favorite color and it was lovely to see all the shades in the puzzle.

    I loved OROTUND!

  3. Al Sanders says:

    I’ve never heard of REDSTARTS either. Are they really familiar enough to base a theme on? Not having heard of the central entry certainly diminished the enjoyment of the theme for me.

  4. Barry says:

    Pardon my ignorance, but where is the Onion puzzle found?

  5. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Barry, the easiest way is to sign up for the Google Group—you get the Onion and Ink Well puzzles via e-mail, in both .puz and .pdf forms, every Tuesday. You can also find links on my Today’s Puzzles download page (though the Onion link doesn’t flip to this week’s new puzzle until Wednesday) or Will Johnston’s Puzzle Pointers.

  6. Gareth says:

    Second day in a row with almost identical LAT/NYT times… weird.

    Like the revealer of this puzzle a lot! Also like how it dovetails with Alex Boisvert’s puzzle of about a month ago (?)

    Battled in the top-right: a) To get the CRUSH after CHERRY for some reason, b) to parse TINORE c) to give IOTA for MOTE even when FINESSE was staring me in the face. MUMBAI is a really cool entry (waiting for JAMAL to appear in a crossword…) and RUBYTUESDAY is an absolute gem of a song! Last to go was in fact the EL of SELENA. Mostly because THEY having a gym made no sense… Oh THE Y you say!

    Thanks for the tidbit from the etymology of OROTUND Amy, way cool! “With rounded mouth” is how I burp!

    Oh and I like it best when ZEPHYRs cause susurruses.

    Huh to those who’ve never heard of REDSTARTS. I’m not in area which has them and I have, but then I might be a special case in that regard.

  7. John Haber says:

    Easy enough, even if I hadn’t heard of RED STARTS either. I first had “thru,” as idiomatic to me, which led me wrongly to “La Russa,” but I recovered. THE Y was my last to fall, because I resisted the obvious vowel in SELENA for a long time, hoping for a singer I’d actually heard of. But then if J Lo had played someone talented, it would have ruined a good singer for me.

  8. John Haber says:

    BTW, golf man is back. Don’t know what we can do about this.

  9. Amy Reynaldo says:

    John, SELENA isn’t so famous now, but it’s not because of a lack of talent. She was murdered at age 23 in 1995 by her fan club president, and Jennifer Lopez’s first leading role was in the Selena biopic. And if you think Lopez isn’t a decent actress, go watch Out of Sight (1998). That movie is packed with smart smoldering.

    Will look into the forum golf spammer—again.

  10. pannonica says:

    AV 56a: before I had theme answers but had the —GEFEST ending to this, I thought a StoogeFest would be a place for a lot of dudes. (Of course it was one letter too short.)

  11. joon says:

    count me with those who don’t know REDSTART and therefore didn’t much enjoy the NYT theme. the AV puzzle had the opposite problem: i thought SAUSAGE FEST was a great theme idea, but not having heard of any (!) of the other four theme answers made that one not much fun either. actually, i know two different people named matthew weiner, but i’m pretty sure neither one created “mad men.”

  12. ePeterso2 says:

    STDS – Was that a rhetorical question, Amy? If not, consider the source – what meaning would STD have in an Onion puzzle? That sausage definitely fails the breakfast test.

  13. Amy Reynaldo says:

    eP, I was kidding.

  14. jane lewis says:

    another way to get the onion and inkwell puzzles is to go to matt gaffney on wordplay and click tausig. both puzzles are there.

  15. Martin says:

    Amy’s links, Will Johnston’s Puzzle Pointers and other links that have appeared around the internets to the Onion and Inkwell puzzles hit my server, where I copy the files, as soon as I get the emails. I even spent $3 last week to use a hotel computer when I got caught out of town without a laptop. How’s that for responsible?

    Anyway, I’m amazed at how many people download these puzzles. It’s pushing 9,000 unique IP addresses per week for one or both of them, just off my server. C’mon folks — introduce yourselves.

  16. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Martin, you are responsible! Many thanks to you and all the other tireless folks (e.g., Lloyd Mazer, Nancy Shack…who else?) who host puzzles for everyone’s benefit. Wow, 9,000? Whoa!

  17. Karen says:

    Thanks Martin!
    I looked at doing a residency in Rome GA years ago. Cute but unmemorable town; however, North Georgia is beautiful in the summer. Not many four letter towns in GA, kind of like Enid, Elke, or Orem (although I see your point about name uniqueness.)

    I had the My Humps lyrics in my mind since recently going back to check the Alanis Morissette version of it. Much preferable to the original by the Black-Eyed Peas.

  18. Jeffrey says:

    Never heard of RED STARTS.

    I also want to thank those who make downloading crosswords so easy. Now if you could only get me the Wall Street Journal puzzle early to ease my weekly blogging deadline!

  19. Deb Amlen says:

    You can also go right to the Onion/A.V. Club crossword online by going to

  20. Jamie says:

    Thanks for the link to puzzle pointers – it’s a goldmine! Also, when I open the Onion xw from that site (PP), it opens in AL; when I solve it on the Onion site, it uses some awful software that makes it impossible to see the later clues without scrolling away from the grid.

    Awesome – I have tons of crosswords to do! Thanks so much.

  21. Tuning Spork says:

    BEAT ON THE BRAT a “hit”? Caleb is obviously a Ramones fan as evidenced by his placing of I WANNA BE SEDATED through the center of another recent puzzle. But, not only was “Beat On The Brat” not a hit, it was never released as a single.

    I checked Wikipedia to find out what was their highest charting single on the Billboard Hot 100, and it can be said that the Ramones have never had a hit.

    Someone of Caleb’s age might assume that their highest charting single was either “I Wanna Be Sedated”, “Rock n Roll Highschool” or maybe even “Do You Remember Rock n Roll Radio?”. As a fan of over 30 years, I assumed it would have been either “Baby, I Love You”, “Howling At The Moon (Sha-La-La)” or “Pet Semetary”.

    But, in fact, none of those songs ever even charted! Surprisingly, the Ramones’ biggest hit on Billboard was “Rockaway Beach”, reaching #66 in 1977. Their only other charters in the U.S. were “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” and “Do You Wanna Dance?”.

    They had better chart success in the U.K. with 14 top-100 singles, but only one making the top-10, “Baby, I Love You” reaching #8 in early 1980.

  22. john farmer says:

    I didn’t know REDSTARTS but it was easily gettable. What I really liked about the puzzle were the corners. The long Down fill and open grid worked very well, even with five theme answers. I’d guess one of the top two or three beefs about puzzles is the frequency that some words show up, and it’s really hard to avoid that with boxy corners, when most answers are four or five letters max. We’ve seen almost all the useable fours and fives, and often. Longer answers help get around that problem. I’d like to see grids like today’s become more the norm.

  23. Jeff says:

    I really liked Patrick Jordan’s CS theme! Love it when my reaction is, “why didn’t I think of that?” Definitely not the pits!

  24. *David* says:

    I found the Onion exactly at my upper level of challenge that I require. Other then the Ramones I unfortunately didn’t connect with the rest of the themes. What am I missing on 47-Down, FORA?

    In the LAT I was also unhappy with the TORV crossing.

  25. Jamie says:

    @*David* Plural of forums? I hadn’t noticed it in the grid – got it from crosses. I googled it just now, and it is so. (Better to be lucky than smart). And yes, I agree with you on the TORV crossing. I’ve never heard of gigapets or Ms. Torv.

    And like a lot of folks, DNF on the NYT due to redstarts/the y cross. I claim responsibility for that one – while I’d never heard of redstarts, The Y was a slap yourself up the head answer when finally revealed.

  26. Jan (danjan) says:

    I’ve heard of REDSTARTS, but I spent a long time looking at the center of the puzzle with 2 letters blank in that word.

  27. THE Y. D’oh!

    (Same avatar as before, and very appropriate I might add! I really need to insert a photo, but this works well for the time being…)

  28. Barry says:

    Thanks for the info, guys!

Comments are closed.