Sunday, 7/4/10

BG 9:29
NYT untimed
LAT 6:56
Reagle 6:15
WaPo Post Puzzler 5:35
CS 8:24 (Evad)

Patrick Blindauer and Tony Orbach’s New York Times crossword, “Making Ends Meet

You know, the theme entries in this puzzle look fine to me as I review them—but they’re all condensed. The last two letters of the first word are the same as the first two letters of the second word, so the duplicated set is dropped.  It’s easy for the eye to skip right over the omission and segue into the next word, isn’t it?

Can I just say how glad I am that the theme has nothing to do with mostly-in-crosswords word EKE?

Here are the theme entries:

  • 23a. [Technical trouble] can be a COMPUTERROR.
  • 32a. ENGLISHEEPDOG is a [Helper in herding].
  • 42a. A [Collectible book] is a LIMITEDITION.
  • 57a. [Line in London] clues the PRIMERIDIAN.
  • 66a. CASENSITIVE is clued well as [Like many an online password].
  • 76a. SCIENCENTER is the only clunker here. Maybe this is a regional thing. In Chicago, there’s an aquarium, a planetarium, a nature museum, a zoo, and museums devoted to science and natural history. I’ve never heard any of them called a “science center,” which is clued [It might have a theater and a planetarium].
  • 87a. PLACIDOMINGO is the [Singer who played Cyrano in “Cyrano de Bergerac”].
  • 100a. [Introvert or extrovert] is a PERSONALITYPE.
  • 111. GUARDIANGEL is a [Protector].

Just a handful of comments on other entries today:

  • 2d. [“Just ___!” (“Hold on!”)] clues a new two-word partial, A MO. Do we like this as a replacement for [Te ___] and the AMO/amas/amat option, or do we question who actually says “Just a mo!”? I’m torn between the two.
  • 5d. [Gift from the well-endowed], starts with STUD…Gray Lady! Where are you taking us?? How racy! Oh. Wait. It’s just STUDENT AID, well-endowed with money. Gotcha.
  • 12d. Hey! This one should be a theme entry. LOST STEAM wants to know why we don’t make its ends meet too. [Petered out] is the clue.
  • 39d. I did not know this. [Play featuring Mrs. Malaprop, with “The”] is The RIVALS. By Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1775. I would have guessed 100 to 150 years later, and American.
  • [Year that Emperor Frederick I died] refers to Frederick I Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor. He died in 1190, or MCXC.
  • 111d. Here’s the puzzle’s best clue: [Herd of elephants?] for the GOP.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “Three-Fourths of July”

Region capture 19Merl does a masterful job at squeezing in 12 theme entries (11 names/things) into the grid, especially given that the theme entries mandate hard-to-work-around Js. Each theme answer includes JUL, which is three fourths of the word JULY. I haven’t got much to say aside from running through the theme—it was easy, that’s for sure, and I didn’t know one of the names.

  • 17a. [European monarch, 1948-80] is QUEEN JULIANA of the Netherlands. Good soccer team there, I hear.
  • 21a. Stacked right below her is JULES MASSENET, the [“Thaïs” composer].
  • 25a. Partly stacked below Jules is JULIE LONDON, a [Sultry singer who wed Jack Webb] and eluded my awareness of her existence. The name is vaguely familiar, but the clue gave me no hints at all.
  • 55a. [“What’s in a name?” utterer] is Shakespeare’s JULIET CAPULET.
  • 65a, 67a. [With 67 Across, Mrs. Bruce Springsteen, 1985-89] is JULIANNE / PHILLIPS. Remember her? I sort of do. Then Bruce took up with his backup singer, Patti Scialfa, and has been with her ever since. I guess it was the right move for him.
  • 77a. I’m not sure I knew JULIO IGLESIAS was Spanish rather than Latin American. He’s a [Madrid-born vocalist].
  • 108a. JULIENNE HAM is a [Chef salad ingredient].
  • 116a. [“Battle Hymn” penner] is JULIA WARD HOWE.
  • 120a. [Official drink of the 1964 World’s Fair (now sold at Dairy Queens)] is the ORANGE JULIUS.
  • 40d. [Southern comforter?] clues a MINT JULEP.
  • 45d. JULE STYNE is [“The Party’s Over” tunesmith].

What, no JULIAN CALENDAR? My son’s at the beach with his pal Julian right now. Did you realize just how many Jul__ names there are? There’s also writer/artist/actress/musician/director Miranda July, but she has all four fourths of JULY in her name so she’s out of luck here.

Mike Shenk’s Washington Post crossword, “Post Puzzler No. 13”

Region capture 20I like that diagonal row of black squares marching up the grid’s center.


  • 16a. I OWE YOU ONE is packed with weird-looking, “that can’t be right” vowel combinations, but those are indeed [Grateful words].
  • 18a. You know what they say about DONALD DUCK: [He goes pantless in shorts]. Animated shorts, that is.
  • 33a. Vocabulary! [Contemn] means DESPISE. This is the verb form of contempt.
  • 39a. FARM TEAM‘s a great entry. Never heard of the [Nashville Sounds, e.g.], though.
  • Literature! William Blake’s TYGER is a [Creature with “fearful symmetry”].
  • 50a. [Sierra follower] in the phonetic alphabet is TANGO. Put Sierra Madre, Sierra Nevada, and Sierra Mist out of your head.
  • 52a. I like PEAS IN A POD much more than peas on a plate, but that’s just me. They are [Like things] as in “things that are alike.”
  • 56a. More literature! Dickens’ EDWIN DROOD is an [Orphan whose disappearance was never explained]. Hence The Mystery of….
  • 13d. I’ve always been fond of UNCIAL script, clued as [Old manuscript letter].
  • 37d. An EMPLOYER is [One who can let you go]. If you’ve been laid off in the current recession, you have my sympathies.

Answers I needed lots of crossings to figure out:

  • 32d. [Jockey Calvin who won the Kentucky Derby in 2007, 2009 and 2010] is Calvin BOREL. I don’t follow horse racing, so I had no idea who this was.
  • 39d. A FIRE POT is a [Furnace part]? Okay, then. I’ll take your word for it. These fire pots have nothing to do with furnaces. This 1913 dictionary definition covers the furnace sense.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s six-week-old Boston Globe crossword, “Crazy Eights”

Region capture 21It took a while to realize that the rebus squares weren’t {ATE}, even though that worked in B{ATE}S COLLEGE. Nope, it’s an {8} rebus, and the syllables that are replaced by the number 8 can be spelled ATE, AT, EIGHT, EAT, and AIT. As promised by the puzzle’s title, crazy!

65a, right in the middle, is ice SK8ER [Kim Yu-Na, for one], so that puts me in mind of Avril Lavigne’s first big hit, “Sk8er Boi.”

I’ll bet very few of you reading this have ever replaced the “ate” syllable with the number 8 in texting or typing. Am I right?

John Lampkin’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “The First Thirteen”

Region capture 22Terrific patriotic history lesson! The current 2-letter postal abbreviations for the states that were the U.S.’s first 13 colonies are included (in circled squares) in a symmetrical batch of theme entries that all have to do with American Revolution era history.

I like this educational concept. It’s carried through to some of the non-theme fill, too.

That’s all I’ve got time for today. See you Sunday with the Monday puzzle!
Updated Sunday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sunday Challenge”—Evad’s review

Happy 234th Birthday America! (You don’t look a day over 229.) Let’s see if there are any fireworks in today’s CS “Sunday Challenge.”

Sorry to say this offering left me a bit cold, kind of like that last hamburger on a plate that was taken off the grill hours ago.
cs74 Let’s look at the long answers in this one:

  • 35 A. The marquis phrase “CRAZY LIKE A FOX,” though admirable for its scrabbilocity, is completely new to me. All foxes are either sly or rabid, but crazy? And how it could mean “Not as foolish as one may seem” is beyond me. Readers, please clue me in! [Updated: I see now that it’s the title of a book, 1980s TV series and defined here. Live and learn!]
  • This crosses 15 D. “Latent hereditary element” or RECESSIVE GENE. Easy and not much sizzle. Would expect to see it as a bottom-row entry when a constructor is looking for letters that typically end words.
  • I think of 8 A. TAPIRS (“Hoofed tropical grazers”) as being distinguished more by their prominent snout, than their hooves.

A couple of highlights nonetheless:

  • Interesting trivia: 31 A. – Bert LAHR‘s “Cowardly Lion” costume weighed 50 pounds. Today they’d get a stunt double to wear that.
  • More trivia: 18 A. “World’s second smallest country” is MONACO. Can you name the smallest? Here’s a hint, it’s a mere 0.2 square miles.
  • And tasty treats: 12 D. “Party mix ingredient” was RICE CHEX. We used to put these on a baking sheet with butter and nuts and roast them a glorious greasy brown.

Speaking of food, it’s back to the BBQ! Enjoy the rest of the long weekend.

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24 Responses to Sunday, 7/4/10

  1. I’ve never heard anyone say, “Just A MO!” But the NYT presumes it in enough circulation for usage, so this member of the [Herd of elephants?] will adapt and move forward…

  2. Deb Amlen says:

    SCIENCE CENTER might indeed be regional. Here in New Jersey, we have the Liberty Science Center, which is a hands-on science museum with rotating exhibits that kids can interact with and a planetarium.

  3. Howard B says:

    With Deb on SCIENCE CENTER, as I have heard it in reference to that facility and perhaps another museum/other building combo that I can’t remember at the moment.

    Speaking of ‘moment’, I’m also with Brent on usage of ‘A MO’. I’ve personally never heard that phrase, so it was one of the last answers I dropped in the grid. Not that inferable, either. I wouldn’t be at all surprised, however, if it were just not used in my neck, thorax, or more vague anatomical area of the woods – or if it is a common enough phrase to be in the language. Wouldn’t be the first time I missed the boat on a phrase… Anyway, fun theme. Liked much, and the clues and fill (STUDENT AID etc.) kept me off-balance for much of the time. Good stuff there as well :).

  4. pezibc says:

    Google exact match search for “science center” returns 9M results. The first page (50 results) has science centers from 24 states, including AK, CA, TX, FL, MA, MI, MO…..

    Sadly, an exact match search for “Just a mo” shows that it is in ‘the’ language – but it ain’t in mine.

  5. Johnathan says:

    I thought today’s CS puzzle was unusually easy. And is it just me or should it have been “chloride” and not “chlorine”? I would have clued that one differently.

  6. pannonica says:

    Johnathan: The clue is Component of table salt. I also filled in “chloride” but had no hesitation in changing it to “chlorine.” The two elements composing table salt (let’s ignore iodization for the mo’) are sodium and chlorine, Na and Cl, in a 1:1 ratio. Once they are combined chemically the compound is called sodium chloride. I’m not sure about this, but I believe that if NaCl is separated the molecules will revert to their elemental states. In this sense, “chloride” would be a component of table salt only in nomenclature.

    That’s my take on it, at least.

  7. Amy Reynaldo says:

    EROTIC TAPIRS! Fifteen or 20 years ago, my husband and I were at Lincoln Park Zoo. We beheld something surpassingly strange, a fearsome gnarled appendage twixt the tapir’s hind legs. “What’s that?” we asked the zookeeper. “That’s a tapir!” he chirped. “No, what’s that?” we said, pointing at the beast’s netherparts. “Oh, that’s his penis. He’s a little…agitated.” Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

  8. Gareth says:

    LAT: My puzzle didn’t have circles in it… The grids posted both by yourself and Amy do. Huh? Made the puzzle a lot more confusing. In any case I’m not really the audience for this one.

  9. Alex says:

    Yeah … so … there’s no hope of Crossword Butler ever delivering a LAT puzzle with circles. Sorry. Luckily, they’re rare.

  10. Sam Donaldson says:

    I believe the Pacific Science Center in Seattle has both a planetarium and an IMAX theater. My first paid job was serving as an “Explainer” at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland (we called it a “science museum” and it had both a theater and a planetarium too). That meant I got to perform science demonstrations with cool things like liquid nitrogen, cow eyes, and lasers. I still wear the proof of a liquid nitrogen burn on my left thumb thanks to a hole in my glove. It’s my “tough guy” mark.

  11. Martin says:


    You couldn’t figure out what the appendage between the tapir’s hind legs was? Chicago definitely needs a science center.

  12. joon says:

    lol. tapirs. hee hee.

    i had a problem with the CHLORINE clue, too. chlorine means elemental chlorine. chloride is the ionized form, which is the form found in table salt. if you “separated” the Na+ and Cl- in salt (good luck with that, by the way), into elemental Na and Cl, then yes, you’d have chlorine… but that’s basically saying, if you converted chloride into chlorine you’d have chlorine. doesn’t make the clue okay. it should have been something like {Table salt element}. and yes, i found the CS unusually easy: my fastest-ever freestyle puzzle, in fact. i loved CRAZY LIKE A FOX though.

  13. Martin says:

    I thought the CHLORINE clue was fine. “Component” is not a technical term in this context. I first filled in CHLORI_E because I smelled chlorine. Had it said “ion” it would have clearly been wrong, but as one of the two “component” elements, chlorine is reasonable. It’s a crossword clue, not a chemistry text.

  14. pannonica says:

    Erotic tapirs? Maybe amorous tapirs is more approachable.

  15. John Farmer says:

    Just last month was at the California Science Center in L.A. for an IMAX screening of Hubble 3-D (3 thumbs up from us). They spell it kinda funny, though, and must have had a preview of the Times puzzle: it’s the California ScienCenter.

  16. Evad says:

    Re the WaPo Puzzler, I’ve seen RIATA more frequently than REATA, but I see they are variants of each other. Which is the primary spelling? (I’m guessing the I-version due to our spelling of LARIAT, but that’s just a SWAG.)

  17. John Haber says:

    I didn’t do that puzzle, but CHLORINE is fine. While NaCl is made of a sodium and a chloride ion, the molecule gets its name because it’s a salt (a chloride) formed from the elements sodium and chloride when they exchange an electron. When it comes down to it, that old-fashioned nomenclature makes sense anyway. Not as if charged particles with the wrong number of electrons are lying around on the beach waiting to meet up.

    I got the NYT theme quickly but found it tough to solve, including theme entries. Some of that is three-letter words all over the grid, and some is a little oddity in the grid, such as the factoid of Domingo as Cyrano, but I appreciated the challenge. Perhaps in accord with the setters intentions, I long expected the overlaps to be punning, so I was doubly sure the Cyrano clue was a play on words between the part and a word for “singer.” And right, A MO didn’t mean anything to me, but SCIENCE CENTER (after a hesitant Manhattan wish for “planetarium” or “museum of natural history”) did.

  18. joon says:

    evad, sadly, there seems to be no “preferred” spelling, and as such, we’ll continue to see both RIATA and REATA with no “var.” label on either.

  19. Jesse says:

    I seem to be alone in considering “a mo” common usage. Hang on a mo, gimme a mo, etc. I’d consider it more old-fashioned (early 90s) than current usage.

    I’ve always assumed that mo stood for moment.

  20. ArtLvr says:

    A day late, but I have to say that i really enjoyed Mike Shenk’s WaPo Puzzler… The cluing was super! I see I ended with one tiny error, with an I instead of Y at the TYGER/HYNDE crossing. Oh well.

  21. David Moreau says:

    Did you happen to catch the comment that “anonymous” (July 5) wrote on the L.A. Confidential page about Merl? This person, obviously, thinks very highly of him/herself, but not enough, of course, to refrain from hiding behind the “anonymous” persona.

  22. Amy Reynaldo says:

    David, that’s gotta be the same person as before. The LACC blog gets the occasional anonymous anti-Merl rant from someone clamoring for a test of word knowledge. I’m pretty sure neither Merl nor the L.A. Times editorial staff give that view much credence. The nutty thing is that the anonymous commenter can just head to the grocery store and pick up a puzzle magazine to get pun-free crosswords. They’re not in short supply! Meantime, Merl’s puzzles will delight those who enjoy wordplay and humor.

  23. JKS says:

    No problem with Reagle’s puns but I am stumped by the answer “PETE” for the clue “Ty’s outhitter”. Just asking…

  24. Martin says:


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