Friday, 6/25/10

NYT 6:09 (joon—across lite)
WSJ untimed (PG)
CS untimed
LAT untimed (PG)
CHE not this week, i think

the scoobies are out in full force this week, so i decided to pitch in even though i’ve been on blogging paternity leave. puzzlegirl will be back later tonight/tomorrow morning with the WSJ and LAT.

Robin Schulman and Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword—joon’s review

nyt100625surprise! you weren’t expecting a rebus on a friday, were you? i know i wasn’t. plus it’s byron (i don’t know robin, but sources tell me she’s byron’s blushing bride), it’s a weekend, it’s a 70-word grid. all of that seems to lull you into the notion that it’ll be a usual freestyle. and yet… i smoked out the rebus pretty quick in that NW corner when nothing else would make TV_L into a logical answer. but of course, when byron’s name is on the byline (even in a non-solo capacity), you know you’re in for a workout anyway. and so i was.

so the theme, appropriately enough for a puzzle co-constructed by a newlywed couple, is an I DO rebus. there are nine rebus squares asymmetrically placed around the grid, but the highlight is the 15-letter, 10-word answer taking up only five squares at 34a, the {Abba hit of 1976}: [I DO] [I DO] [I DO] [I DO] [I DO]. that’s 150% more committal than the hit broadway show with carol burnett and rock hudson! other rebus answers:

  • {Native Australian winds} are DIDGER[IDO]OS. this is an awesome answer, first of all. second of all, the clue did just enough to throw me off—or maybe it was the clue and the byron byline. but i was definitely thinking, “oh god, he wants us to know the name of some dry wind that blows in from the snowy mountains after the monsoon season.” glad i was wrong.
  • {Davy Jones or any other Monkee} was a TV [IDO]L. as i said, this was the clue that “broke open” the rebus for me, not that the puzzle immediately fell apart or anything.
  • {Ballpark fare} is a delicious CHIL[I DO]G. the word break even goes in the right place here. i’m amused that this answer sits atop ATE KOSHER.
  • {Good place for a smoke} is indeed a HUM[IDO]R. wonderful clue. yes, it’s a good place to store a cigar (i think?), just not a good place to smoke it (i think?). truth be told, the only thing i know about humidors is that they use one to store the baseballs used at coors field in denver.
  • {Teen drivers?} are the LIB[IDO]S that drive adolescents to … uh, whatever it is kids do these days. another terrific clue.
  • the {Shower holder} is the MA[ID O]F HONOR who traditionally holds a bridal shower. aw, extra theme! this one’s all nuptial-like, see.
  • {Spanish man’s name that means “peaceful”} is PLAC[IDO]. this one’s real, real easy if you know the rebus already, as it’s a cognate of the english word “placid.” but when i first got here, i was mighty stumped.
  • {Bribed} is PA[ID O]FF.
  • {George Sand title heroine} is IS[IDO]RA. yikes, i don’t think i could’ve told you anything she wrote. i don’t even remember her real name! sic transit quizbowl knowledge. ah, wikipedia to the rescue: it’s amantine aurore lucille dupin.
  • {Some snowmobiles} are SK[IDO]OS. if you say so.
  • {Punctilious type, slangily} is an [I-DO]TTER. i don’t believe i’ve ever heard this particular word, spoken slangily or otherwise. is there such a thing as a t-crosser? anyway, i do love the word punctilious. (hey, stop snickering. i heard that. i’m right here, you know.)
  • {Accepted} is SA[ID O]K TO. man, that took a while to parse.
  • {Birthstone for most Leos} is PER[IDO]T. should i admit that i only know the name of this gem from final fantasy IX? no? okay, i’ll keep it under my hat then.

tough stuff (luckily not including any dry wind of the australian outback):

  • {Yossarian’s tentmate in “Catch-22”} is one of the non-bobby ORRs. there’s also a john boyd ORR who won the nobel peace prize some time in the mid-20th century. it’s good to be aware of these guys if you do a lot of crosswords, because there’s only so many times an editor is willing to go with {Bruin legend Bobby}. having said that, i recommend that you go ahead and read catch-22 anyway, because it’s great. bleak, hilarious, poignant, and exquisitely crafted. it’s american fiction at its finest.
  • {“It Don’t Come Easy” singer, 1971} is one of the non-kenneth STARRs. uh, i actually have no idea who this is. brenda? is that a STARR? it’s not bart, i know that.
  • {Nautically equipped, in a way} is PONTOONED. man, rough clue. and i’m also not in love with this particular inflected form. there are a couple of other wince-worthy ones (FROTHERS and PROFANERS are the worst wincifiers).
  • {“Bird” with a flexible nose} is a valiant attempt to conceal the old SST. indeed, they do have droopy-looking noses.
  • {Bellini opera set in the English Civil War} is I PURITANI. whoa, highbrow. not one of the, say, 30 or 50 best-known operas. but the clue makes it guessable if you have some of the crossing letters.
  • {Mythological thread-cutter} is ATROPOS, the oldest of the fates. clotho spins the thread, lachesis measures it, and atropos applies the snippy-snip. elsewhere in greek mythology, we have {“Dawn of the ___ fingers …”: The Odyssey} to clue ROSY. yup, that’s a well-known first line, all right.
  • {Gâteau des ___ (Mardi Gras dessert)} is a new clue for ROIS (french kings). i didn’t make the connection until just now, but yes, i’ve had that dessert and it was called king cake.
  • {“I am,” in Italy}? ouch. not up on my italian, so this could have been anything… i was kind of distressed to discover through crosses that it was SONO, which is much, much better-known to english speakers as a prefix.
  • {Short and disconnected: Abbr.} is STAC., i.e. staccato.
  • {Final section of T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”} is PART V. i’m not sure why this was my first answer in the grid. i’m sure i haven’t read that poem since 12th grade, and i couldn’t tell you how or why i knew it had 5 parts.

awesome clue roundup (aside from the ones i already singled out for the rebus answers):

  • {Bug detection devices?} are PALPS. i didn’t figure this out until after i had all the letters. yup, they’re detection devices used by bugs, not devices for detecting bugs.
  • {February 4th, to some?} is the SILENT R in the 4th position of “febyooary.” wait, no. don’t count me among the “some” in the clue.
  • {Chick magnet?} for HEN? okay, it’s a stretch, but it’s funny.
  • {They might break up a plot} are the HOES used to break up dirt in a garden plot. i couldn’t figure out how to pluralize george lucas, and plus he wouldn’t fit into four squares anyway even with the rebus action going.
  • {Turning point?} is a nice literal definition of EDDY. by the way, next time you see EDDY in a grid (and it will be soon, i’d imagine), check to see if it’s on the bottom row or rightmost column. more than half the time, it will be.

okay, joon out. how’d this puzzle treat you—fair friday or brutal byron? were you spanish inquisitioned by the rebus?
Updated Friday morning:

Joon Pahk and Andrea Carla Michaels’s Wall Street Journal crossword—PuzzleGirl’s review

grid wsj 10 06 25I haven’t been doing the Sunday-sized puzzles lately. I just don’t enjoy them as much as the 15x15s — they just seem too big and I mostly feel like I just slog through them. So I was psyched to see the names of two of my favorite constructors on this one. Have I ever mentioned that I totally suck at anagramming? I do. Shouldn’t that be something I’m good at? It seems like it should. And yet … no. Luckily, though, the words anagrammed in this puzzle were all short enough that even I didn’t have too much trouble with them. Also, I’m not a big geography person. But I have heard of all but one of these capitals. It’s a pretty good day for me, all things considered, is what I’m saying.

Theme answers:

  • 23A: City square in Bolivia? (LA PAZ PLAZA).
  • 25A: Couples in France? (PARIS PAIRS).
  • 35A: Creature in the Philippines? (MANILA ANIMAL).
  • 48A: Eye part in Albania? (TIRANE RETINA).
  • 62A: Post in Peru? (LIMA MAIL).
  • 75A: Aria in Norway? (OSLO SOLO).
  • 82A: Hot spots in the Bahamas? (NASSAU SAUNAS).
  • 101A: Scottish lords in Greece? (ATHENS THANES).
  • 113A: Fur coats in Belarus? (MINSK MINKS).
  • 115A: Creep in South Korea? (SEOUL LOUSE).

A lot of the cluing in this puzzle is pretty tricky, but with the theme answers relatively easy to put together, I ended up solving this one quickly and had a lot of fun doing it. Stuff I didn’t know includes:

  • KEPI [39A: Topper for de Gaulle]. When neither chapeau nor beret fit, I knew I was hosed.
  • NELS [76A: Wilco guitarist Cline]. Not exactly BEQ territory with the music reference, but not a band that I’m familiar with.
  • 47D: Montreal Expos legend Tim RAINES. Damn you, Andrea, for being such a sporty girl and always using so many sports clues. [wink!]

I do believe the clue for THE RAM [27A: Sign for May Day babies] is wrong. Aren’t May Day babies Taureans? I’m pretty sure they are. And I’m pretty sure Taurus is the bull and Aries is the ram. Feel free to jump in here if you actually know anything about this stuff. I’m no expert. I laughed out loud at the clue for PANTS [26D: Donald Duck’s lack]. And who isn’t happy to see a reference to soccer?! [61A: Side of a soccer field? (TEAM).] U-S-A! U-S-A!

Two final thoughts. I was just listening to [45D] IRA GLASS on a “This American Life” podcast this morning and was telling a friend about it tonight. It’s one of the best ones I’ve ever heard. If you haven’t listened to “Recordings for Someone,” which aired June 13, do yourself a favor and check it out. The first act had me laughing hysterically while walking through the mall on my way to work. It introduces a catch-phrase that should absolutely be a part of our national consciousness. And finally, I choose to believe that ANGIE [30A: 1973 Rolling Stones hit] is a shout-out to me. (Thanks, guys!)

Mark Feldman’s LA Times puzzle—PuzzleGirl’s review

grid lat 10 06 25I have to say that I’ve been kind of disappointed with the LA Times puzzle lately. Maybe it’s because I spend too much time focusing on it over at my blog. Whatever it is, it’s no fun. The puzzle got super super easy a little over a year ago. There have been glimmers of an escalation in difficulty a couple times since then, but they always seem to fizzle. I find today’s offering way too easy for a Friday. I actually kind of liked the theme — food puns based on foreign cities — I even let BASEL CHICKEN have a pass, thinking “well, it’s not chicken cacciatore, but I’m sure it’s a thing.” Then I got to JEDDAH CHEESE. That one just doesn’t fit with the rest of the theme answers. Am I being too picky? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Swiss poultry dish? (BASEL CHICKEN).
  • 27A: Korean menu listing? (SEOUL FOOD).
  • 35A: Indian lunch fare? (DELHI SANDWICH).
  • 43A: Moroccan hearty meal? (RABAT STEW).
  • 52A: Meccan omelet ingredient? (JEDDAH CHEESE).

Much like yesterday’s LAT puzzle, the fill just wasn’t colorful enough to make up for the drab theme for me. I like LEFT JABS (although I’m not crazy about the gratuitous plural) (37D: Right crosses may follow them). And SHANGHAI and BUBBAS have a little sparkle to them (except there’s that plural again) (10D: City near the Yangtze River / 1D: Good ol’ boys). But overall? I expect quite a bit more from my Friday.

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Making Progress”—Janie’s review

What a treat of puzzle this is! The “progress” in the title refers to the way the theme clues are doled out. There are five of ’em—and each one leads to 15-letter fill, all of it quality stuff. Randy starts with the letter “B” and with each successive pass, adds another letter to the mix—like this:

  • 17A. [B] PERSONALITY TYPE. So many theories, so little time…
  • 22A. [BO] ROCK STAR DIDDLEY. Now I read rock star here not literally (because he wasn’t a “rock” musician per se), but in the sense of Mr. Bates’s being one of the music world’s most charismatic innovators. His genres? Rock and roll, rhythm and blues, blues. And he was a major influence in all three. (I wonder if any of his RIFFS are also [Guitar Hero licks].)
  • 38A. [BOA] FLAPPER NECKWEAR. Something like this.
  • 46A. [BOAR] WARTHOG RELATIVE. Not just another pretty face. Neither the clue fella, nor the fill
  • 55A. [BOARD] GROUP OF ADVISORS. Okay, probably the driest of the theme fill, but something about it is just so solid.

Solid, too, is the non-theme fill. There’s a bit of a sports mini-theme with ROONE [“Wide World of Sports” creator Arledge]; OILER, the [Edmonton skater]; OTS [Fifth quarters in the NFL]; ELEVEN, twistily clued as [Band of Patriots?] (i.e., how many players on a football team? From Boston?…); DINK (a new term to me) for [Drop shot, in tennis]; and the smile-making clue [Peg of the LPGA] for the oft-seen (coulda been yawn-inducing) TEE.

Other tie-ins:

  • A-little-education-is-a-good-thing with [Preschool attendee] for CHILD and said child‘s next step, [K-6] ELEM.
  • The weekend-comedy shout-outs to SNL [NBC program since 1975] and MAD-TV, its [Fox alternative…]. Remember, too, that SNL was one of the early stomping grounds for Mike Myers, cinema’s SPY by way of [Austin Powers, e.g.] and Wayne’s World denizen, which gave us the word [Babealicious] for HOT. Which seems to be a logical segue to
  • What-goes-on-under-the-covers with [Bed-in participant] for ONO and [Kinsey research topic] for SEX.

And a gracious good day to one and all!

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16 Responses to Friday, 6/25/10

  1. Alex says:

    So … no mention of the first letters of the Across clues?

    Congrats Byron and Robin!

  2. andrea carla michaels says:

    joon, my love (I can call you that since we have a co=byline today, and it seems to be the trend) you ARE kidding about the STARR, right? But since I know you to be, um, earnest, I will say to you RINGO. And if you parse it right, perhaps it’s another nuptial clue!

  3. Mick says:

    The Starr is Ringo

  4. Evad says:

    Thought this was a great (and apropos, or is that atropos?) tribute to one of the great constructors and his soon-to-be wife. Q to the happy couple, how did you split up the construction duties?

    Thanks to Will for running a puzzle that may have a lot of solvers wondering who these newlyweds are.

  5. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Alex, I didn’t notice the acrostic message in the Across clues’ first letters. Nice addition!

    How sweet of Will to run this puzzle on Byron and Robin’s wedding day. I will be sure to congratulate them on both the crossword and the nuptials at the wedding tonight. Man, I hope they say their I DOs and don’t just go the SAID OK TO route.

    Thanks for filling in, Joon (and Sam, Jeffrey, Angela, Janie, and Evad)! My family and I need the occasional vacation where I’m not blogging. Hey, Joon, I saw your fancy pen store here in New York, Joon Pens.

    ISIDORA is more familiar to me as my mother-in-law’s name, but while she does enjoy crosswords, that’s not good enough to get into a crossword clue, is it?

    I had my first Across Lite spotting in the wild! A man on the subway had a printout of the Todd Gross/Ashish Vengsarkar Sunday NYT on his clipboard. I refrained from asking him if he reads crossword blogs.

  6. Matt says:

    The rebus was very much the last thing I figured out– and the puzzle was quite tough up to that point, even without getting the trick. But I got it all, eventually, and the rebus provided a stirring finale. And congratulations to everyone.

  7. joon says:

    i totally missed the acrostic message, too. all of the clues were phrased so naturally! quite a feat.

    and, oh yeah, STARR. i’m not sure why ringo didn’t occur to me!

  8. Evad says:

    So I wonder which is more annoying to listen to, a DIDGERIDOO or a VUVUZELA?

    Tawk amongst yourselves. I’m getting verklempt about the wedding.

  9. janie says:

    just in case anyone was wondering, the stars of i do! i do! on broadway were mary martin and robert preston (who where succeeded by carol lawrence and gordon macrae). ms. burnett and mr. hudson performed the show at the muny in st. louis as one of that institution’s summer offerings. the muny is an amphitheatre that seats some 11,000 and i have to believe there was a whole lotta commitment goin’ on there to get that little show across to so many!

    of byron and robin’s commitment: all best wishes!!!!! and wow, wotta puzzle!


  10. Howard B says:

    Oh, that is priceless! Congrats to Byron and Robin, that is just too good :).

    The rebus actually wasn’t much trouble, but the fill at the bottom was what got me. ‘I PURITANI’ was not inferable for me from the clue, since the letters I had were scattered and didn’t lead me anywhere at first. That one, plus SONO, ROSY, and PONTOONED had me floundering in that one corner for most of my solve until it finally broke. Just nasty stuff there.

    FYI – It’s Ringo Starr (as already said), and there is a lesser-known, but current pro hockey player named Colton ORR that occasionally pops up in some non-syndicated puzzle clues.

    Think the didgeridoo sort of offsets the vuvuzela, strangely soothing. Although a stadium full of them would also not be a good idea, not the least of which is 70,000 people brandishing largish wooden sticks.

  11. Jeffrey says:

    Awesome NYT. I knew sonething was up with MAID OF HONOR.

    Sorry I missed blogging today’s WSJ, with an Expos reference and a bonus second Montreal clue! Thanks, joon and Andrea.

    And thanks to fellow Scoobys for stepping in when I had to bail at the last minute.

  12. Jan (danjan) says:

    Best wishes to Byron and Robin! Awesome puzzle – my first thought while solving was, darn, I thought I knew how to spell didgeridoo, but it won’t fit. Then I went back and forth on what I thought was a gimme – any Monkee could be an IDOL to me, but it didn’t fit the crossings. Very devious, making it TVIDOL in 4 spaces. Even with that taken care of, the upper left was still a killer for me, but I always enjoy Byron’s puzzles (and may be one of the few who hopes for a difficult one from him at the tournament). The down clues having more information is beyond elegant. Byron and Robin, enjoy your day!

  13. John Haber says:

    Nice to have a rebus on Friday, which added to the difficulty, of course, since like Amy I wasn’t at all expecting it. It only made it harder that the theme entries were often Friday entries, like an Australian wind. Or, for one among many false starts, a five-letter birthstone beginning with P had me guessing “pearl” rather than PER(IDO)T. I’m sure it’s easier if you can stand ABBA.)

    For me, like Jeffrey, MAID OF HONOR cracked the theme, although left open lots else to solve. Unlike Amy, I couldn’t rely on TV IDOL. While I remember the Monkees, the entry wasn’t in my idiom. The SW was my last to fall.

  14. Congrats to the happy couple, and what a treat this NYT puzzle was. The last I DO to reveal itself, at the crossing of CHIL(IDO)G and SA(ID O)K TO, was positively heinous. It’s been a long while since I’ve struggled with a puzzle section like SW. I appreciated getting the rust out, even if my solving time shot through the roof (about 28 minutes, more than half of which to figure out that corner).

    Looking forward to the Saturday puzzles and to the USA-Ghana match in the afternoon…

  15. foodie says:

    Well, I’m a day late and a dollar short, but I wanted to comment on Joon and Andrea’s puzzle. Is this the right place to do it??

    Like PG, I’ve almost given up on Sundays because they feel like work. But I loved, Loved, LOVED this one. I thought the anagrams were so clever and gettable and helped keep the puzzle moving apace. But I also loved the richness of the fill. Joon and Andrea are a fantastic combo because they have together such a HUGE range, from geek to chic. Never a dull moment!

    And solving this puzzle also shed light on Andrea’s comment on Rex’s blog, wishing that the co-constructor of the NYTimes Puzzle, ROBIN would change her name to ROBYN :)

    More, please!!!

  16. joon says:

    thanks foodie! this is as good a place as any :)

Comments are closed.