Thursday, 6/17/10

Fireball 7:55
BEQ 7:49
NYT 4:49
LAT 3:35
Tausig untimed
CS untimed

Oh, dear. Six puzzles for Thursday? Too many! And I’m tired. Not as tired as my husband, who pulled a travel all-nighter last night and went to sleep an hour after he got home this evening. Glad that was him and not me! (she says lovingly)

Corey Rubin’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 8Theme: A JOY rebus. Did you know how many phrases contain that word? We have BUNDLE OF JOY crossing jump FOR JOY. Tasty ALMOND JOY crossing the ODE TO JOY—which this puzzle is, in a way, and which is part of BEETHOVEN’S NINTH. OVERJOYED crossing the NO JOY in Mudville when Casey (mighty Casey) struck out (iffy as fill, that NO JOY, but it’s used to good effect here). Super-cool answers JOY RIDING and JOYSTICK. And Amy Tan’s The JOY LUCK CLUB crossing Al JOYNER.

Highlights, in brief:

  • 17a. BAWDY means [Blue] in the “racy” sense.
  • 34d. HEIMLICH is the [Eponymous doctor with a maneuver].
  • 15a, 25a. I was tempted to put this in the “dislike” column, but on further reflection I give a thumbs-up to I LOVE / A PIANO, [an Irving Berlin song] split into two entries. It would be cool (though still a song I’ve never heard of) as an 11.

Lowlights, in brief:

  • 35d. ONNA? [Tony-nominated choreographer White] is named ONNA? I  hope her middle name is Clearday. Her work was mostly before my time, and I suspect she wasn’t all that broadly famous in her heyday. Because if she were, wouldn’t I already know her name from crosswords?
  • 41a. Nobody likes chemical suffixes in the singular, much less the plural. ENES are [Hydrocarbon suffixes].
  • 59a. IGNIS, Latin for “fire,” is clued as [Top of a Roman candle?]. Now, a Roman candle is a firecracker, but that’s not what the clue’s getting at, is it? It’s what’s at the top of a candle, if you’re in ancient Rome where they speak Latin. If you’re wondering if the Romans even had candles, the answer is yes.
  • 40d. HOD is a homely little word, clued as [Container on a pole]. Extra, extra, read all about it.

Robert Harris’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 9Loved the first half of this movie theme but hit the skids when I was familiar with only half of each movie pair in the third and fourth theme entries:

  • 17a. [Alan Alda feature with a Will Smith short] clues CALIFORNIA SUITE, with Will Smith’s ALI embedded within. All right, that’s cool.
  • 27a. [William Hurt feature with a Warren Beatty short] clues ALTERED STATES. Hey, I like how this theme is shaping up.
  • 47a. [Barbara Stanwyck feature with a Dustin Hoffman short] is…well, Dustin Hoffman was in HERO, a not particularly distinguished film, but what on earth is the Stanwyck picture? Can’t say I know anything about NO MAN OF HER OWN. Is this a mash-up of “No Man Is an Island” and “A Room of One’s Own”?
  • 62a. I’ve heard of THE LADY VANISHES, but couldn’t have told you it’s a [Michael Redgrave feature with a Helen Gahagan short], and have not heard of SHE (or Helen Gahagan, for that matter).

I’ll give the theme props for having the circled letters contiguous. Much better than spacing them out. And the movie-within-a-movie concept is worlds better than a theme that puts the circled-letter words within unrelated phrases. Terrific theme concept, but the execution involves a couple movies I don’t know at all. How about you—Did you recognize all eight movies? (John Farmer and Jeremy Horwitz would probably both say “yes.”)

Okey-doke, five clues:

  • 4d. [Christian guide] clues PRIEST. Is it weird that I needed a lot of crossings to get this?
  • 5d. [Norman athletes] are the college players in Norman, Oklahoma, known as the SOONERS. I kinda wanted to learn an Old English word meaning “athlete,” but no, not that kind of Norman.
  • 9d. LAST NAME is a [Job application line]. Aw, I’d like to see a question-marked clue obliquely alluding to “last name first.”
  • 30d. Your ELBOW is an [Attention-getting joint] if you poke someone with it.
  • 38d. I hope somebody read [Rice, to Montana] and put something like CASH CROP. No grains, no states: just football players, one the TEAMMATE of the other.

Updated Thursday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Color Scheme”—Janie’s review

Each of the four names that comprise today’s theme fill has a surname that’s also a color. As a group of colors (and unlike the puzzle as a whole), they make for a pretty drab palette. As a group of people (two Americans, two Brits), they’re pretty peppy. Those Americans especially. Say “hey” to:

  • 17A. BETTY WHITE [She played Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”]. And famously hosted this season’s SNL finale. Technically speaking, though, isn’t white the absence of all color?…
  • 10D. ADOLPH GREEN [“Singin’ in the Rain” coauthor]. As a writer, one of the gems of the American musical—for both film and stage—and one of the best song-and-dance men to boot. Coauthored with Betty Comden; was married to Phyllis Newman. Twelve Tony nominations; seven Tonys. Wow.
  • 25D. GORDON BROWN [Prime Minister after Tony Blair]. Now Blair was colorful and one tough act to follow—someone who gladly did away with using the ROYAL WE [Pompous plural pronoun].
  • 65A. THOMAS GRAY [“Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” poet]. A fitting color for this serious work.

We do get a livelier palette of colors, however, elsewhere in the puzzle. There’s [“Blue Hawaii” neckwear] for LEI and [“Big Blue”] for IBM; [Be in the red] for OWE; [Chiquita] BANANA (-yellow…); and representing the presence of all colors together, [KITT was a black one] for TRANS-AM.

There are a pair of eight-letter beauties in GUTTURAL [Like the end of Bach] (terrific clue!) and “IT’S A TRAP!” [“Don’t go in there!“]. (I won’t! I won’t!) And if not a SLEW [Whole lot] of twisty clue/fill combos there are some mighty fine ones:

  • [Give a hand?] is SLAP—and not CLAP…
  • [Cooler unit] has nothing to with (the too short) ACS or BTU, but is slang for (jail) CELL.
  • [Hood’s projectile] refers not to, say, a gang member’s thrown SHIV, but to Robin “Hood’s” ARROW.
  • [Flappers in “Dumbo”] do not refer to ladies with bobbed hair in short, drop-waist dresses dancing “The Charleston” in the movie Dumbo, but to the title character’s EARS. (On the subject of characters from childhood stories, how lovely to see Ms. MOPSY, [Fictional rabbit], sister to Flopsy, Cottontail and their mischievous brother, Peter Rabbit.)

Enjoyed seeing two entries beginning “RH-” in one puzzle: RHUBARB and RHO. And as I read it, where “Gotham” is understood to be a nickname for NYC, not only is BATMAN a [Good guy of Gotham City], but so, too, is RATHER, [Dan from Wharton, Texas].

Finally, I was (rather…) tickled for the reminder of yesterday’s puzzle with TERN [Shorebird that sounds like a bend].

Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeless 20”

Region capture 10I had to quit this puzzle last night when I grew too sleepy. Don’t know how different my solving time would be if I’d done the whole thing this morning.

It’s not my favorite Fireball to date. The sports and band names didn’t come to me with the clues. I have no idea who puts SALAMI in an omelet. The proportion of solvers who saw the cartoon Igor has got to be small, and knowing it’s based on Frankenstein wouldn’t help you get EVA as a character (pfft, really, Peter?). I didn’t know TEST-FLIES was a verb.


  • ALEX OVECHKIN, ZAC EFRON, STEELY DAN—all of which I needed tons of crossings to get. Complete names always look good in the grid, though.
  • 47a. [Frenemies, at times] are BACKSTABBERS.
  • 62a. [Child hood?] is a tricky clue for IMP.
  • 48d, 50d. [Ursiform folivores], or bear-like leaf-eaters, are KOALA / BEARS.

I think Peter’s puzzles usually contain more to delight me.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s blog crossword, “Location, Location, Location, Location”

Whoops, out of time. Got a Cubs game to get to this afternoon, and I’m still in my PJs.

CORNER THE MARKET feeds into four corner “markets”: ANTIQUE SHOP, BIG BOX STORE, TRADING POST, and OPEN-AIR MALL, all wrapping the unclued corners of the grid. Some of the crossings were tough. (DRE is a kid in Karate Kid? Really? Is it SAW II or SAW IV? That last corner retailer was the toughest for me to uncover.)

Will get to the Tausig puzzle later, after the game.

Updated Thursday evening

Yay, Cubs win!

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “International Loans”

Region capture 11Do you know your Spanish? That’ll come in handy in this puzzle, where several common English words that form part of a longer term are replaced by their Spanish equivalents. The Spanish words appear in circled squares:

  • 23a. [1992 presidential campaign ads?] clues PEROT PLUGS. PERO is Spanish for “but.”
  • 37a. [Unsanitary place to buy soda and popcorn?] clues CONCESSION STY. Y means “and.”
  • 10d, 51a. [With 51-Across, book about a terrible baseball season?] is THE NINETY-/FIVE LOSSES. LOS means “the,” and isn’t it fun to build a crossword theme entry off a seminal bit of the Reformation?
  • 32d. [Dermatologist’s asset?] clues PORE SIGHT. POR means “for.” I’m a little less fond of this one because it’s the only one in which the active word in the original phrase, foresight, is split into two words.
  • 61a. ESPANOL is the [Language into which parts of this puzzle’s theme answers have been translated].

Freshest fill, funniest clues:

  • 17a. SEXILED means [Banished to the dorm’s common area for fifteen minutes, slangily].
  • 21a. [Oft-snickered-at planet] is, of course, URANUS. (Not mine.)
  • 31a. EPT, which can stand for “early pregnancy test,” is a [Brand often used with nervous anticipation].
  • 6d. [Biblical boss] clues GOD.
  • 40d. [Phallic shapes of some monuments] are OBELISKS. Hello, Washington Monument! Are you happy to see us?
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17 Responses to Thursday, 6/17/10

  1. Byron says:

    Helen Gahagan is more famous as Helen Gahagan Douglas, a Democratic representative from California. Richard Nixon dubbed her the “Pink Lady,” alleging
    Communist sympathies. She, in turn, labeled him “Tricky Dick”. He defeated her soundly in their race for the Senate.

  2. Charlotte says:

    IGNIS [Top of a Roman candle ]

    “And it is madness in all women to let a secret love kindle within them, which, if unreturned and unknown, must devour the life that feeds it; and, if discovered and responded to, must lead, IGNIS-fatuus-like, into miry wilds whence there is no extrication.”
    (Jane Eyre)

  3. Red Dog says:

    What I thought was v cool about the NYT puzzle was how symmetrical all the JOYs were. Every one of them is in the mirror-image spot vs its pair. I know that that’s the way it’s supposed to be but it’s cool to see it done in 6 spots.

  4. Duke says:


  5. Karen says:

    I thought the Christian guide clue was weird too. I was expecting Beatrice or the Bible, something more specific.

  6. cyberdiva says:

    Amy, I loved your suggestion/hope that Onna’s middle name is CLEARDAY. But I was surprised that you put IGNIS and HOD in your “lowlights” category. I thought IGNIS was clever, and HOD is a perfectly legitimate word that I’ve heard a lot, but always in the term “hod carrier.”

    For me, the hardest answer to get turned out to be BORAT, which is crazy, since I had _ORA_ and had seen and enjoyed Borat when it came out. But my mind was fixated on KORAN and TORAH. Neither worked, but I couldn’t get past them.

  7. Matt says:

    OPUSES? Oh, dear. Even aside from the high-falutin’ “the plural of opus is opera“, it’s an ugly one.

  8. ArtLvr says:

    I have to say it — Corey Rubin’s NYT was a JOY to behold! Delighted to see BEETHOVENS NINTH right across the middle… Other than starting off with Poe’s Raven rather than the BELLS, and wanting Cutesy Pie (as in cutie pie) where POO popped up in the end, all went well… HEIMLICH was a gimme, but I never heard of SONOMA called Valley of the Moon — where did that come from?

  9. Gareth says:

    Bruno and Borat in two puzzles today…

    Got mountains and valleys mixed up so “Valley of the moon” made me think Ruwenzori. which just wasn’t going to fit… You won’t be surprised that I’m unfamiliar with Sonoma’s nickname. IGNIS/GRE and ONNA/ENE were iffy crossings – got them so couldn’t be that bad.

    Why I need to read your blog #1: I decided that Irving Berlin composed “I Love Apiano” assume Apiano was somewhere I hadn’t heard of…
    #2: Completely lost by the LAT theme, which on reading your blog is actually quite cool. Only movie I can say I’ve heard of… CALIFORNIASUITE. Is She based on the H Rider Haggard novel I haven’t read? (Yeah, I’m lazy…) My puzzle didn’t have circles either, was really a lost solver today! (Oh wait I have heard of Ali too, of course!)

  10. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Note to Joon–

    I recently did your “Alchemy,” lead to gold puzzle for the first time, (in a reprint book) and loved it. Superb theme, and clever, demanding, but always entertaining clues. Thanks.


  11. sps says:

    @Red Dog—I totally agree with you! Thanks for pointing that out. I frequently have to stare at a puzzle for a little while after I’m done to catch things like that.

  12. Sara says:

    I’ll always think of her as Helen Gahagan, thanks to Tom Lehrer. Listen to his tone when he mentions Ronald Reagan – in the innocent year of 1965:

  13. John Haber says:

    Very nice theme. I had trouble latching onto it, but once I did obviously things fell much more quickly. I had most trouble at bottom, not knowing JOYNER, not easily getting IGNIS, and having had “cream” mistakenly for CREME. And no, ONNA was not famous in her time, so that’s a hard one. I assumed for a while that Shortz had at last found another way to clue OONA.

  14. joon says:

    bruce: thanks! peter gordon deserves much of the credit, but i still think that’s the best puzzle i’ve ever constructed.

    enjoy the cubs game, amy!

  15. Meem says:

    As Amy knows, there is joy in Wrigleyville today. Caught the joy at bundle of, alerted when it became obvious that 1a was not Raven. Off to the races from there. Growing up in Iowa, knew cutesy-poo as a snide derogatory. Fun to have fun with a Thursday rebus.

  16. Evad says:

    For the FB, I had LATINO for LATINA, so couldn’t get “Inherent” crossing the “winger” ALEX. (I’m assuming he’s a skater?) Was thinking about Amy Winehouse for some reason when I saw the Whitehouse clue…agreed this wasn’t my fave FB.

  17. Garrett says:

    I am not sir I would have completed the Fireball without your blog. For ochlocratic activity I had LYNCHING, and I don’t get COLDPLAY at all. Nor do I get PDI. Chalazia meant nothing to me. I had to get help in the SW. I’ll second the Pffft.

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