Sunday, 6/27/10

NYT (untimed—PG)
WaPo 13:11 (Sam—paper)
LAT 15:18 (Sam—paper)
BG 17:10 (Jeffrey—paper)
Reagle 6:35 (joon—across lite)
CS 7:47 (Evad)

I think this is your last day of of us benchwarmers, so let’s just make the best of it.

Michael J. Doran’s New York Times crossword, “To Thine Own Self Be True”—PuzzleGirl’s review

grid nyt 10 06 27Have you all ever tried the “solve with a friend” option on the New York Times site? That’s how I’ve been doing the Sunday puzzles for the last several weeks. I just really don’t care for puzzles this big. But solving it with someone else makes it more interesting for me. Also quicker.

Cute theme this week. Clues for the theme answers are all words that begin with the letter I. You’re supposed to pronounce each one as if it’s an Apple product, which leads you to a fake occupation/activity. It’s as if a person is saying, for example, “I rate, my job is to rate, that’s what I do.”

Theme answers:

  • 23A: Irate (FILM CRITIC).
  • 28A: Isled (OLYMPIC LUGER).
  • 52A: Islander (TABLOID WRITER).
  • 88A: Iran (ELECTION LOSER).
  • 109A: iPhone (TELEMARKETER).
  • 117A: Ibid. (EBAY PATRON).
  • 33D: Icon (PONZI SCHEMER).
  • 42D: Ideal (CASINO WORKER).

I’m probably not the best person to blog the Sunday puzzle, but that’s where I fell on the schedule so here we are. I started things off for you. You all keep it going in the comments.

Trip Payne’s Washington Post “Post Puzzler No. 12″—Sam’s review

WaPo 062710In a very short time, the weekly WaPo freestyle puzzle has become one of my regular favorites, and Trip Payne’s 70-word offering is no exception.   I recently read that Trip doesn’t read any reviews of his puzzles, and I can understand that policy.  Still, I hope he realizes how much much many of us enjoy his consistently great work.  The triple-stacked 11s in the northwest and southeast of this grid are terrific, especially HULLABALLOO, clued as [Flap], and A DIME A DOZEN, clued as [Nothing special].  The other corners feature paired 9s anchored by an 8, and while maybe none of them especially sparkle they’re all quite solid.  Others may scoff, but I rather liked TOMATOEY, clued [Like pasta pomodoro].

Trip’s puzzles often come with trivia and pop culture references that are squarely within my wheelhouse; I’m pretty sure we grew up around the same time and have the same cable TV package.  Here we have KELLOGGS, clued as [It once produced Golden Crackles and Banana Bubbles], intersecting ENERGIZER, clued as [It’s represented by a bunny].   (I confess that my first thought drifted toward Playboy.  Four or five thoughts later, I was back to solving.)  And then there’s MENUDO, the band behind the [Self-titled album of 1985], intersecting NINA Garcia, [Michael and Heidi’s fellow judge on “Project Runway”].

My entry into the grid came through BOA, the [Adam’s apple hider for a drag queen]. Seeing from the first word of the clue (“They”) that the nearby 34-Down entry was plural, I had the first two letters for SON, the [Labor result, often].  I then returned to 34-Down, only to see that the clue, [Theymight indicate a lack of bipartisanship], was pretty easy after all–it’s NAYS. That gave me Y and B as consecutive letters in 40-Across.  You don’t see that everyday, so I jumped to that clue right away with the hope it would crack open a lot of real estate.  But the clue, [Maker of wheat rolls, sometimes], had me flummoxed. “Must be some bakery brand,” I figured.  Oops.  It wasn’t until I could add the starting H and A that I finally got it: HAY BALER! Terrific clue! There were other great clues, too, including: [Kid-friendly oath] for DARN IT, [Joe Cocker sound] for RASP, [Having more to remember] for OLDER, and [Give the skinny] for DISH.

Like any good freestyle, there was much new to me but it didn’t preclude me from solving the puzzle eventually. Knowing little about the Bible, [Numbers woman] doesn’t help me for MIRIAM, which happened to intersect OBADIAH, the [Shortest book in the Old Testament]. [Battle, for example] clued OPERA STAR, and I had to Google “battle opera star” to find out it referred to Kathleen Battle, a famous American soprano. Also new to me was [“Foreign Affairs” novelist] Alison LURIE.  That’s right, I strike out on the Bible, opera, and literature, but nothing stands between me and TV, drag queens, and pop music.  I’m low-brow and I so totally own it.   Seacrest out.

Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “The Ends Justify the Meanings”—Sam’s review

grid lat 10 06 27Oops, Seacrest in! This puzzle twists familiar phrases using the pattern “___ and ___” by changing the last word in the phrase to a compound word that begins with said last word. The result is then clued as if the end of the compound word was a separate word. Good grief, that was clear as mud. Examples will show how it works:

  • The [Angler’s go-to lure?] is the BREAD AND BUTTER FLY, the union of “bread and butter” with “butterfly.” This was the first theme entry to fall for me, and right away I knew the gimmick.
  • The [Intermittent photo session?] is an ON-AND-OFF SHOOT, a smushing of “on and off” with “offshoot.”
  • [“Father Knows Best,” to some] would be MOM AND POP CORN. In my version of the puzzle, this clue lacks a question mark. I think that’s a typo, but maybe that means some people really would consider this classic sitcom to be corny. I haven’t watched it, so I’m not in a position to comment.
  • [Zigzags?] is the short clue for IN AND OUT LINES, a marriage of a burger joint and some outlines.
  • The [Wavering conservative faction?] is the BACK AND FORTH RIGHT, joining “back and forth” with “forthright.”
  • The [Thrill from using a mouse?] is a DRAG AND DROP KICK, formed by combining the “drag and drop” computer technique with a staple move from pro wrestling, the dropkick.
  • The [Fancy dance marathon?] is the HUFF AND PUFF BALL, from “huff and puff” and puffball. I liked this theme entry the best, though I would have preferred a clue along the lines of [Cotillion for big, bad wolves?]

Maybe this is not the first time we’ve seen a theme like this, but it works for me because it’s easy to figure out from one example and, once you grasp the theme, you can suss out the other theme entries in short order.  Everything a theme should do, I think.  On the other hand, with only seven theme entries I can’t say I was especially overwhelmed with the construction–perhaps I was just “whelmed.”   I didn’t encounter any rough spots, and the overall fill was smooth, so on the whole the puzzle works even if it lacks oomph.

One of my favorite clues was [Sign that makes an angel happy] for SRO (standing room only).   At first I thought the “angel” referred to the one whose receipt of wings is marked with the ringing of a bell.  Also, I found [GP’s gp.] a fun way to see the AMA clued (G.P. being a general practitioner and the AMA being the American Medical Association).  Finally, it was oddly satisfying to see LENO clued as [O’Brien’s successor].

Do we subtract points for RUB OUT, as well as its clue, [Bump off], because both OUT and OFF appear in theme entries too?  I say no, but perhaps some of you will say yes.  Do we subtract points for M AND MS, the [Candy named for its creators] because it uses AND, which is a central component of all of the theme entries?  I say yes, but perhaps some of you will say no.

Henry Hook’s Boston Globe “Doubles”—Jeffrey’s review

bg jun 27 2010DOUBLES or DOUBLE-S is the theme. The S in the seond word of the theme answers is doubled with wacky results.

Theme answers:

24A. [Situation when socks have no holes?] – DARNING NEEDLESS from darning needles
43A. [Dry pie?] – SAHARA DESSERT from Sahara desert
54A. [Elderly bryophytes?] – GRANDMA MOSSES from Grandma Moses. Good one.
76A. [ROTC’s job?] – TRAINING BRASS from training bras
82A. [“Gandhi” star blowing his lines?] – KINGSLEY AMISS from Kingsley Amis, an English novelist, it seems. Joon will no doubt explain.
108A. [Pitcher : balk :: quarterback : __?] – COMMIT A FAUX PASS from commit a faux pas. Another good one.
3D. [Bandits’ gunfight tactic?] – STRIKING A POSSE from striking a pose.
51D. [Creamy, not crunchy?] – QUIET AS A MOUSSE from quiet as a mouse.

Other notables:

13A. [1967 Spencer Davis Group hit] – I’M A MAN
34A. [Cognac-label abbr.] – VSOP crossing 22D. [Answers an invite] – RSVPS for those who like their SVPs.
35A. [Berlin’s “__ Blue?”] – AM I. But are you a blue man?
36A. [Region of Vietnam] – ANNAM. A nnam? An nam? Anna m? A man? A blue man?
62A. [Wife’s title] – MRS. Not all of them. Mine, yes.
68A. [Overlook] – MISS. Did we overlook a link to 62A?
75A. [Vegas-based TV drama] – CSI. Remember Vega$?
78A. [Samuel Butler novel] – ERE WHON. Could have been written by Kingsley Amis #notveryliterateblogger
92A. [Six-term Rhode Island senator Claiborne] – PELL. I bet even joon didn’t know this one.
106A. [Astigmatic’s views] – BLURS. If glasses hadn’t been invented my career as a crossword solver wouldn’t have gotten very far.
113A. [Aircraft type] – PROPJET. Make up your mind. Prop? Jet? Glider?
6D. [“Borderline” singer] – MADONNA.
44D. [Bob of “The Joy of Painting”] – ROSS. Was that the guy with the afro always painting mountains? Yup!
45D. [Pouch worn with a kilt] – SPORRAN. Never heard of it. I checked; apparently it is a pouch worn with a kilt.
52D. [Band of brothers, maybe] – UNCLES.
53D. [Realist artist Thomas] – EAKINS. His middle name was Cowperthwait.That doesn’t seem very realistic.
55D. [More optimistic] – ROSIER/ 66D. [2002 Rosie O’Donnell memoir] – FIND ME. A rosie is a rosie is a rosie.
71D. [1965 Sophia Loren title role] – LADY L. Lady Louise Lendale
72D. [“__ yellow ribbon…”] – TIE A
98D. [“__ to Hold Your Hand”] – I WANT
105D. [Actress Khrystyne] – HAJE. Her parents wanted her to be in crosswords, but not too frequently.
107D. [Virgin’s neighbor?] – LION. Virgo and Leo. What were you thinking?
Updated Sunday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sunday Challenge”—Evad’s review

Scooby Seven here with your CrosSynergey Sunday Challenge. I think the three long answers in today’s puzzle describe my typical solving experience pretty well:

  • 5 D. When struggling for an answer, I’m AT A LOSS FOR WORDS
  • 8 D. When I’m really stumped, I come to this blog, pleading “I NEED SOME ADVICE
  • 9 D. When I finally get my answer, I realize this was something I had known (and forgotten) many times before, RELIVING THE PAST

That said, this particular puzzle didn’t put up too much of a fight, especially with those long familiar phrases falling so quickly.

  • 15 D. “Brand applied to a baby’s bottom” was DESITIN. Vaguely familiar, and probably joon’s first entry in the grid.
  • 41 A. “Belonging to a fictional Butler” didn’t fool me with the capital B in the clue — are there no other famous RHETTS out there to clue them as a couple?
  • 38 A. & 7 D. clue the disgraced Senate Majority Leader TRENT LOTT.
  • 20 A. is the “shirt material” Ban-LON. Never seen this entry clued other than a reference to horror movies. I see here Ban-Lon made it into a Seinfeld episode.
  • 44 D. “Where to get a Shiver” is TBCY, or “The Country’s Best Yogurt.” A Shiver (which I have never had) is a yogurt specialty at your local mall’s food court.
  • 2 D. fills “Winnie ILLE Pu,” the title of the A.A. Milne classic in Latin. Here’s how it begins:
    Ecce Eduardus Ursus scalis nunc tump-tump-tump occipite
    gradus pulsante post Christophorum Robinum descendens. Est quod
    sciat unus et solus modus gradibus descendendi, nonnunquam autem sentit,
    etiam alterum modum exstare, dummodo pulsationibus desinere et
    de eo modo meditari possit.

    Gotta love “Eduardus Ursus” and “Christophorum Robinum”!

Oh, and to you soccer fans out there, I believe USA and SOUTH KOREA both acquitted themselves admirably yesterday and can leave this year’s World Cup with their heads held high. Well done! Now I just have to figure out who to root for next…you have to like the odds of some South American country winning it all.

Merl Reagle’s Sunday crossword, “Gathering Eggcorns”—joon’s review

merl100627joon again. loved this theme! for those not familiar with eggcorns, merl informs us in the notepad: “Eggcorns” are things people say and write that are technically incorrect but which have a logic of their own, like “wheelbarrel.” Forthwith, some of my faves. let’s see ’em:

  • {Tantalize in a mouth-watering way?} is WET ONE’S APPETITE, instead of “whet.” great clue here, too.
  • {Disagreement of biblical proportions?} is PARTING OF THE WAVES. i don’t know this eggcorn. is it supposed to be “ways”?
  • {Sharpen the focus of?} is HONE IN ON, instead of “home.” but honing would be sharp indeed.
  • {Completely exposed?} is BUTT NAKED (“buck”). hee hee.
  • {Counter to one’s faith?} is SACRELIGIOUS (“sacrilegious”). the origin is “sacred,” not “religious.”
  • {Yard planning that requires no grass or watering?} is ZEROSCAPING. this one went over my head, i guess because i’ve never heard of xeriscaping, from the greek root “xeros” (dry), same as xerography.
  • {Indicator of the winds of change?} is a BELLWEATHER (“bellwether”).
  • {Loosely interested?} is LAXADAISICAL (“lackadaisical”). i’ve never heard this one in the wild either, but it amused me.
  • {Formerly gung-ho sort who leaves the country?} is an EX-PATRIOT (“expatriate”), like drew bledsoe.
  • {Agreeing words from one in attendance?} are “HERE, HERE.” hear, hear! this is one that annoys the heck out of me when i see it.
  • {Strange places where even hired boats never go?} are UNCHARTERED WATERS (“uncharted”).
  • {No easy matter, especially if there’s asphalt?} is A TOUGH ROAD TO HOE (“row”). who, indeed, hoes a road?

speaking of merl, he treated the cruciverb-L list to a delightful NPR-style puzzle: wimbledon record-breakers ISNER & MAHUT can be rearranged to form what two synonyms, using all 10 letters once? the answer is not quite clean enough for NPR, but i won’t give it away. also, i’m not the only constructor hoping that john ISNER’s fame extends beyond the customary 15 minutes, because those are some great letters.

i think that’s all for the B team. amy will be back tomorrow, no?

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13 Responses to Sunday, 6/27/10

  1. ArtLvr says:

    Thanks, Puzzle Girl! Spend almost an hour finishing a tricky work like this while also watching something difficult on TV, and it’s a relief to be able to check one’s results here… I had to take it on faith that 39A SKOPJE was right, whew. 7D LUTSK too. My favorite theme answer was 33D, for Icon — the PONZI SCHEMER. it was amusing to see EROS, LOVE and AMOROSO early on, but ACHES FOR and ALEVE immediately afterward. Now it’s time to catch some ZZZs and relieve the brain strain… I agree that larger works like this one are very impressive, but can feel as if they take HOURS! Kudos to Mr. Doran.

  2. HH says:

    “[Bob of “The Joy of Painting”] – ROSS. Was that the guy with the afro always pinting mountains?”

    Either mountains, or happy little trees.

  3. Jan (danjan) says:

    ArtLvr – taking SKOPJE “on faith” seems fitting; it’s the birthplace of Mother Teresa.

  4. Anne E says:

    Back and finally de-jetlagged after a long vacation in (of all places) Skopje (plus 7 other Balkan countries), and I see I’ve missed a bunch of stuff! Catching up:

    (1) Congrats to Amy on the 5-year blog anniversary! It was the first crossword blog I learned of, and it’s still the only one I read regularly every day (well, at least, when not on vacation). Here’s to many more.

    (2) Congrats to Joon & his wife on the new addition to the family! Your times have been looking pretty fast lately, Joon. I suggest more sleep deprivation. :-)

    (3) And although I haven’t met either of them (yet – maybe at some ACPT!), congrats to Byron & Robin! Argh, that was a killer Friday… just how I like them.

    Sorry for the belated congrats!

  5. janie says:

    ditto sam’s fandom statement re the wapo. a welcome addition to sunday morning indeed. got my start today dead center with the crossing of AKA and SKA. entered TOMATOEY lightly, but was confident about the Y (of YER), and could then confirm the fill from the bottom up with ETA and OTT.

    for them as cares about these things, OBADIAH is also the A/K/A for Sky Masterson of damon runyan/guys and dolls fame.

    the BOA/[adam’s apple…] combo was an lol moment with a strong visual.

    michael doran’s puzzle weren’t too shabby neither!


  6. cyberdiva says:

    Did no one get assigned the Merl Reagle Sunday puzzle, or is that no longer being covered?

    EDIT: Oops, I just saw that it’s listed but not yet done. Whew! I’m relieved, since I like his puzzles.

  7. Norm says:

    Well, maybe someone will deal with Merl’s puzzle at some point, but I’ll note my gripes (although I really, really liked most of it). One, I don’t think “xeriscaping” is well known enough for a pun-based puzzle like this one, AND it looks like “zeroscaping” may even have become an acceptable alternative term. Fail. Two, “sacreligious” did not fit with the other theme answers, in my opinion. The others all had a pun in the clue that tied to the misusage that made the answer an eggcorn — e.g., “Loosely interested” for “lax-adaisical [lackadaisical].” I just don’t see that in “Counter to one’s faith” unless there’s some context in which “sac” or “sacre” means counter-clockwise or something like that. Minor nits in an otherwise fun puzzle, but it sure made it hard to get through that upper middle section where both of them appeared.

  8. joon says:

    just getting around to the comments and the rest of the blog. jeffrey, kingsley amis is indeed an english novelist. he wrote london fields and lucky jim. unless the first one was written by martin amis, his son. or maybe father. but i think i’ve got it right. martin amis wrote time’s arrow, which i’ve read. it was okay. i didn’t know PELL, but i feel like i’ve seen it before.

    anne: thanks! i’ve been hot this week after a prolonged slump.

    cyberdiva, the reagle did sort of fall through the cracks; i picked it up because nobody else seemed like they would, but i didn’t get around to doing it until after germany-england and then i spent some time trying to distract my son.

    norm, i thought SACRELIGIOUS was fine. it’s an eggcorn, just like LAXADAISICAL, because the misspelling is due to a perhaps understandable confusion about the root of the word. “sacrilege” is not related to “religious” at all, so the portmanteauzation of the word constitutes an eggcorn.

  9. Norm says:

    joon, i understand both the misspelling and the etymology — sacri/sacer [sacred] + legious/legere [theft] — of the real word. my point (poorly expressed, i guess) was that i didn’t see a pun along the lines of ‘loosely” for “lax” and so i thought it fell short of the high expectations i have for a merl puzzle.

  10. Norm says:

    Eh, on second (third? fourth?) look, I guess “to one’s faith” is the purported pun vis-a-vis religious, but it still seems weak …

  11. Gareth says:

    Did the Sunday puzzles on the ‘plane from OR Tambo (Johannesburg) to Port Elizabeth. At parents for rest of winter/WC holidays…

    Can say was a singular experience! Only previous Sunday on paper (I think) was a Merl Reagle also on the plane. Did the NYT in the waiting area, while we had a 45 minute delay. Also did most of the LAT before boarding and the rest before take-off (hence no exact time). NYT felt pretty easy and the theme was certainly fresh and playful! Not sure why but it felt for me like the LAT was the harder puzzle, mostly because I couldn’t seem to complete any theme answer and thus grok the theme (I’m claiming distraction from noisy announcers!) It was nicely executed that 1 – agree with Sam HUFFANDPUFFBALL is best.

    Joon: Also had SACRELIGIOUS and BUTTNAKED going over mine, BUTTNAKED made so much sense I never though to question it (surprise, surprise!) Puzzle felt mostly easier with pockets of supreme resistance – C??/PAU? esp. for reasons that in hindsight are hard to explain

    Thank you for your week of pinchhitting guys, sure it was a rough road to hoe though, enjoyed you all (especially you, Jeffrey, who makes me laugh, despite being Canadian) though everyone (not least the support team!) will of course welcome the Queen of Crossword Land back tomorrow!

  12. John Haber says:

    Joon, I believe Martin Amis wrote “London Fields,” and I recall it was very good. I did read “Lucky Jim” along time ago.

    Am I allowed to say that I positively hated Sunday’s? In no small part, it just depended on junk fill, as in the NW with LAMBERT, SWALE (I had “swamp”), LUTSK, LIZ, DARLA, KARL, SKOPJE, YAO, … and that’s just one corner. And in no small part I hated the theme. When I first got a theme entry with “EBAY PATRON,” I guessed that, given that i-words tend to begin devices from a certain trendy and powerful company, that the idea was to look for online sources of the behavior cited. But no, and the relevance to the Polonius quote was somewhere between flimsy and inane.

    Several of the theme entries, such as TABLOID WRITER and OLYMPIC LUGED, are below the bar for idiomatic phrase as well. Worst puzzle in ages.

  13. Chris says:

    Almost perfect…however, the “Wade opponent” was Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), so it’s “A ROUGH ROAD TO HOE” for the mangled phrase. Cheers.

Comments are closed.