Sunday, 7/11/10

BG 8:04
Reagle 7:37
NYT 7:02
LAT 6:42
WaPo Post Puzzler 4:00
CS – 35:58 (Evad, with a break before finishing the NE)/5:34 (Amy)
NYT second Sunday puzzle 7:06—BEQ’s “Marching Bands”

Ed Sessa’s New York Times crossword, “As Elmer Fudd Would Say…”

Region capture 18This puzzle needs a different title—Elmer Fudd doesn’t just pronounce an R as a W, he also pronounces the L that way. (And I just edited that Wikipedia page. The “Elmer-speak” heading was presented as “Elmer’s peak.”) But several of the theme entries have Ls that are unchanged. So pretend it’s just an R-to-W theme, not a Fudd one, and the theme of this fairly breezy puzzle is successful:

  • 23a. [Part of a biblical warning against growing onions?] is SO SHALL YE WEEP (reap).
  • 30a. TOWEL WHACKS (racks) are [Some locker room tomfoolery?].
  • 40a. [Bio for a Looney Tunes coyote?] is THE LIFE OF WILE E. (Riley).
  • 56a. Nader’s Raiders become NADER’S WADERS, or [Politico Ralph’s fishing gear?].
  • 68a. [Pretty fat, actually?] clues THIN AS A WHALE (rail). Nice opposite flip here.
  • 80a. [React to a bitter mouthwash?] clues GARGLE AND WINCE (rinse). Listerine is pretty useful for the gargle-and-wince combo.
  • 94a. [Sloven in the coven?] is a FILTHY WITCH (rich). I like the rhyme in the clue.
  • 102a. [Advice too someone going to the Egg-Beaters’ Convention? is TAKE A BIG WHISK (risk).

A true Elmer Fudd theme could have featured the lady coyote, THE WIFE OF WILE E.

I must say, I have never heard of PIELS, the 37d: [Beer brand originating in Brooklyn]. Do all of you New Yorkers know this one?

More clues and comments:

  • 13a. I like JOB JAR, a [Container holding slips of paper with tasks written on them]. Not enough to have a job jar, just enough to admire it in a crossword.
  • 21a. “BAD MOVE!” [“Shouldn’t have done that!”]
  • 60a. [Light of one’s life] is TRUE LOVE. Don’t you really want this to be TWOO WUV today?
  • 74a. [Garb for Gandhi] is the DHOTI. Not to be confused with GHOTI, which Ben Zimmer explained is not from George Bernard Shaw.
  • 100a. CAMISE, meaning [Loose smock], is not a common word.
  • 110a. OLD-LINE means [Traditional]. Good entry.
  • 10d. The MUSES are [Nine daughters of Zeus].
  • 16d. JOE COOL is cool. He’s [Snoopy’s hip alter ego].
  • 27d. Did you want a plural S at the end of this? Your [Added-on Medicare provisions] are PART B.
  • 53d. [1958 #1 hit by Domenico Modugno]? I said to myself, who’s he? Then I realized that the Italian title “VOLARE” would fit. I learned to drive in a Plymouth Volare wagon. Jealous?
  • 71d. WAR BOW? That’s a thing? I guess I haven’t kept up on the [English archer’s weapon] category.
  • 81d. AVOCADO is a [Shade of green]. My Lexulous opponent played the Scrabble-legit AGUACATE, Spanish for “avocado,” against me for a triple word score bingo.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “Home Repair Made Simple”

Region capture 19Hey, Merl! You used your plane to shave off a column from this grid. You owe me 21 more squares, mister.

The theme is hardware redefined by goofy clues:

  • 22a. [Talent scout for Chippendale’s?] is a STUD DETECTOR.
  • 24a. SAW HORSES becomes a verb phrase: [What I did at the track?].
  • 30a. [What’s next if “nude newscasting” ever catches on?] clues WEATHER STRIPPING. This entry alone is worth the price of admission. Love it!
  • 43a. [Test for a breakfast cook?] is EGG-BEATER DRILL. I have never heard of this tool.
  • 62a. [Disco that has its own deli?] is a TONGUE AND GROOVE JOINT. That…is pretty gross.
  • 77a. [Pictures from my trip to Florida?] should be [Videos from…], if you ask me. ALLIGATOR CLIPS would be video clips rather than still photos, wouldn’t they? As it happens, on my last trip to Florida, I did in fact take both photos and video of alligators on the loose.
  • 93a. [Comedian’s funny-sounds-from-his-armpit routine?] clues COMPRESSED AIR BIT. No idea what this tool/part is, either. But armpit farts? Always a hoot.
  • 101a. [Eyeballs?] is a graphic clue for SOCKET SET.
  • 103a. [Buckminster Fuller, for one?] clues a HEXAGONAL NUT. R. Buckminster Fuller was crazy for geodesic domes. Now, those domes can be made of triangular panels, but you can also use hexagonal ones.

Five more clues:

  • 65d. [Squirrel fur] is called VAIR. Did you know this word? And if you did, did you learn it from crosswords like I did?
  • 1a. I think of the ACLU as more of a civil rights–protecting group than a [Bias-fighting org.]. But I suppose that sticking up for someone’s rights means fighting bias against them.
  • 83d. I don’t think John Wilkes [Booth’s bandager, Dr. ___ Mudd] is famous enough to expect solvers to know his first name and middle initial, SAMUEL A.
  • 53d. An EPITAPH is a [Headstone inscription]. This is not the same an an epithet. And an epithet is not always a negative description—”The Father of Waters” is an epithet for the Mississippi River.
  • 15d. I love [Seats of government?] as a clue for THRONES.

Karen Tracey’s Washington Post “Post Puzzler No. 14”

Region capture 20I just did Trip Payne’s Post Puzzler from two weeks ago and found it easier than I expected—and then Karen’s puzzle comes along and I knock another half minute off the solving time. I hope this doesn’t mean that editor Peter Gordon has gotten the word from up above that the clues need to be easier. Just a quirk this week?

These are a few of my favorite things:

  • 1a. Can’t say I’ll ever eat BEEF JERKY, but it makes for a terrific 1-Across. It’s a [High-protein snack].
  • 34a. When I was in high school, oh, how I loved NEW WAVE music. Your Duran Duran, Flock of Seagulls, Boy George—all that and more. The clue is nonspecifically adjectival: [Untraditional].
  • 37a. I learned the word [Dabchicks, e.g.] from crosswords and it’s a cool word, isn’t it? More fun than GREBES. Blogger Brian Cimmet always talks about Karen’s puzzles having birds he has never heard of. We’ve got GREBES and an EGRET here.
  • 57a. [She played Glinda in “The Wiz”] clues the late and very great LENA HORNE.
  • 7d. [Cozy mystery author Brown] is RITA MAE. My mom read her novels back in the ’70s. Cats? Is that what makes her “cozy”?
  • 8d. [Carp] is not just a fish. It’s also a verb, KVETCH. How I wish there were a fish called the kvetch.
  • 12d. An ASTROLABE is a [Sextant predecessor].
  • 31d. You’re lucky today’s [Mucilaginous stuff] is just ADHESIVES. It could also be viscous goo from plants such as okra. Remember those brown glass bottles of mucilage with the red rubber applicator with a slit in it? Remember the smell of school-supply mucilage?
  • 39d. [Takes down a peg] clues HUMBLES. A much better word than ABASES, which gets so much more play in crosswords.

Five toughest clues:

  • 18a. [Second earth orbiter Gherman ___] is Gherman TITOV, a cosmonaut.
  • 29a. OLIN is an [Engineering college in Needham, Massachusetts] that I’ve never heard of, but my alma mater did have an Olin Hall for science. The Olins, they must have loved science.
  • 44a. The first name of [Giants defensive end Umenyiora] is OSI.
  • 6d. ETAT completes [Tiers ___ (French commons)].
  • 14d. INVERNESS, Scotland, is a [City near the Moray Firth].

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s New York Times second Sunday puzzle, “Marching Bands”

This variety puzzle took me about 30% less time than Mike Shenk’s WSJ “Labyrinth” from Saturday.

Favorite fill:

  • 1b. P.B. AND J. clued as a 4-word answer. Now, I just call it a P.B.J., no “and.”
  • 7a. The iPHONE.
  • 11b. The MAGNOLIA State, Mississippi.
  • C-b. The song “C.C. RIDER.”
  • D-b. Ooh, DOPPLER RADAR, a [Meteorology device (2 wds.)].

What the…? Isn’t this the third puzzle this weekend to include EVER SO (9b)?

Unbest fill:

  • 10b. Late ’80s “motor sports” trivia, DARRELL Waltrip. Okay, I’m keeping a mental list of clue categories I don’t care for: nautical, poker, car racing, biblical, Broadway.
  • 12b. TEENER meaning “teenager.”
  • A-e. BUDDED, [Like trees in the early spring]. It’s certainly a valid word, but I’ve never used “budded” as an adjective like this. “Budding out” as a verb, yes.

Updated Sunday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sunday Challenge”—Evad’s review

I got a heads up that today’s CS “Sunday Challenge” was by Bob Klahn, the undisputed king of diabolical clues. So, of course, I approached this puzzle with more than my usual trepidation and saddled up for quite a tussle. 30 minutes into it, I had wrestled the beast to the ground with the exception of the small 3×5 grid in the upper NE. So I stopped the timer, got up, collected my thoughts and finally remembered OLGA bras. (I don’t spend a lot of time in the lady’s lingerie department.) Finished just shy of 36 minutes, sans Google. Not sure if that is something to be proud of, but I’m glad I resisted looking something up and I did survive to fight another day.

I first need to thank Byron Walden for including F-HOLE (“Opening for a concertmaster?”) in a puzzle a few years ago (maybe in the NY Sun?); it’s the aperture in a viola, violin or cello shaped more like an S to me than an F. (I could see if it were shaped like an A, someone would want to change the name.) Anyway, that and a couple long entries below the equator of this puzzle (COOLIDGE, RAGGEDY ANN and CHIHUAHUA) helped give me enough inroads to tackle the lower half. Even there, though, there was plenty I didn’t know (all names, as is typical for me) and I had to rely on many crossers:

  • AXIS SALLY – I see here that one of her less colorful nicknames was OLGA!
  • MYRA – as in Breckenridge, the Gore in the clue is Gore Vidal, and the post-op refers to her former life as Myron.
  • AXEL FOLEY – Eddie Murphy’s character from Beverly Hills Cop.
  • CHLOE – I don’t watch 24.

There too were the misdirecting clues for simple entries:

  • “Bar keeper, for short” – dem’s be gold bars here, found at FT KNOX. I first wondered if WINDEX was used on a bar.
  • HEAVY here is a noun, or “Villain”
  • And history, Sir Walter Raleigh and the Earl of ESSEX were rivals for the affections of Elizabeth I.

That left the Northern climes, and the thinner air in those upper latitudes almost did me in. Thank goodness for being saved (literally and figuratively) by MESSIAHS “They’re expected to deliver.” (I kept trying to get some form of OB/GYNs in there.) That, and the Q of PDQ (“Express letters”) helped ETIQUETTE to fall. From there, I got over my confusion of thinking of TV channels over the English Channel and saw a frequent visitor to crosswords, the vowel-rich Gertrude EDERLE. “Jamie Foxx’s double” didn’t fool me, so XES and APEX followed next. I tried PASODOBLE before PAS DE DEUX (too much Dancing with the Stars I guess!) and enough of A CAPPELLA was there to see that too. (Very musical fill here, and I haven’t even mentioned the two types of LUTEs, the Russian Balalaika and the Greek Bouzouki.)

Finally, got an inroad to the intractable NE with “Racketeer’s rye rectangle,” which had nothing to do with gamblers or sandwiches, but tennis players and rye grass (are all GRASS COURTs rye grass? Is it the bounciest?) Tried ANON for SOON for too long (though the clue was oddly “Not long”), which left me in a spot. Took my aforementioned short stroll, remembered OLGA bras, and it was OVER (“History”).


Pamela Amick Klawitter’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Geek Squad”

Region capture 21Easy puzzle with an uncomplicated theme: The eight longest entries are two longest words with  TECH spanning the word break, split into TE and CH in each case. Here they are:

  • 23a. [Welsh pop singing sensation] is CHARLOTTE CHURCH. If you still think of her as a preternaturally gifted 13-year-old, you should know that she’s 24 now.
  • 37a. A CHOCOLATE CHIP is a good [Cookie tidbit]. Also good for snacking and in a peanut butter sandwich.
  • 60a. [“The Awakening” author (1899)] is KATE CHOPIN. Spoiler alert: Depressing ending!
  • 85a. [Knifehand strike] is a KARATE CHOP.
  • 101a. [Environmentalist’s concern] is CLIMATE CHANGE. Those people who yammer on during every cold snap or snowstorm and say “So much for global warming!”—have they been freaking out and demanding that their legislators move forward on fighting global warming with the heat wave that bludgeoned the East Coast and other regions? Hmph.
  • 123a. This [1971 counter-culture film revue hosted by Richard Pryor], DYNAMITE CHICKEN? I am not sure I’ve ever heard of that. I was five at the time. That said, I would be interested in ordering the dynamite chicken at a restaurant.
  • 15d. [Holiday song that begins “The sun is shining, the grass is green”]is “WHITE CHRISTMAS.”
  • 53d. [Legislative meeting area] clues the SENATE CHAMBERS.
  • 120d. Tying it all together, TECH is a [Support worker hiding in the eight longest puzzle answers].

It’s a lively batch of theme answers, but there’s not much else that excites me in the grid. There are just 10 7-letter fill answers and nothing longer than that. Here are the question-marked clues, which add flavor:

  • 5a. [Five-sided home?] is home PLATE in baseball.
  • 29a. [Datsun starter? is the letter DEE.
  • 35a. [Matter of interest?] is the interest RATE.
  • 66a. [Downs a sub?] means EATS a sub sandwich, not sinks a submarine. Seen this clue before.
  • 69a. LOSS is a [Leader leader?] in that it precedes “leader” in the term loss leader.
  • 126a. [Link in a chain?] clues a chain STORE. Clue would be tougher without the question mark.
  • 3d. [Former prefix?] doesn’t point to EX-. Nope, it’s TRANS, as in transformer.
  • 7d. [Small quantities?] means abbreviated amounts, or AMTS.
  • 48d. [Tube test?] is a TV PILOT episode.

Henry Hook’s six-week-old Boston Globe crossword, “F-Words?”

Region capture 22The F-words here are TH-words as pronounced by someone who doesn’t make the TH sound, reclued accordingly. My two favorites:

  • 105a. [Klutzy doctor?] is a HIPPOCRATIC OAF.
  • 22a. [“There’s no more ruffle”?] clues THE FRILL IS GONE.

Each corner of the grid has two parallel theme entries, so they’re sort of laid out in a pinwheel pattern.

Random remarks:

  • PHIZ was just in an NYT clue recently, and here it is again as a 64a: [Face, slangily].
  • A 68a: [Doorway curtain] is called a PORTIERE. Those ’70s hippie beads—are they considered portieres too?
  • Don’t recall seeing 51a: [Brazil’s Cape Sao __] ROQUE before.
  • 82d: BE IT SO, or [“Amen”], sounds Yoda-fied in its word order.
  • Those big crosses of black squares in the middle of the grid look weird, don’t they? The puzzle is split into four quadrants, each with its own pair of theme entries, plus a 3×3 chunk in the middle.
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14 Responses to Sunday, 7/11/10

  1. NinaUWS says:

    I’d heard of Piels, but I didn’t know it was from Brooklyn. I’m originally from Queens, anyway . . .

  2. Zulema says:

    Thanks to Ben Zimmer for setting us straight about GHOTI and G. B. Shaw. We can now say it’s been attributed to him but it is 100 years older.

    I never heard of a JOB JAR. It seems to be a good way to stuff the chores there and forget about them, unless one is a “farmer,” in which case the jar would not be needed. There must be another explanation for it: a sort of grab-bag of chores, say, in a house of many children during summer vacation?

  3. Gareth says:

    NYT:Theme entries 1 and the last 2 are really cute!

    Anyone have advice for remembering “New Deal inits.” – tends to be translated by my brain as “3 letters you’re going to need crossers for.” Search of MG’s database suggests there are 10 possible choices. Eish!!

    Strange how almost every Warner Bros. character has a speech defect, but there are precious few current cartoon characters with them. (Not really)

    Also: Remember that Dabchick can refer to the New World Pied-Billed Grebe as well as the Old World Little Grebe.

  4. Don Chandler says:

    Showing my age, but growing up in Conn., not far from NYC, in the 50’s, we all loved the Bert and Harry Piels commercials. They were played by the comics Bob and Ray.

  5. ArtLvr says:

    CAMISE is new to me — looks like a cross between chemise and camisole. (Dictionary says they both derive from Latin “camisa”.)

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Gareth, I do turn to you for all my dabchick information. Sorry I have no advice for [New Deal inits.]—I ponder TVA but don’t commit to it without crossings.

  7. Angela says:

    I easily breezed through this one, but can someone explain 14D clue: Things letters have? The answer is “leases”. I don’t get it.

  8. Evad says:

    “Letters” as in landlords who let out apartments. Is there such a thing as a lettee?

  9. ===Dan says:

    I have a Bert and Harry tray:

    I really liked the Wife of Wile E. But unfortunately, there’s an L left, and “why we” would kill the concept.

  10. Gareth says:

    LAT: Made up “What’s Christmas” – true story. D’oh! And “yup!” to lively theme answers.

  11. joon says:

    i’m currently at my in-laws’ house, about 1 mile from OLIN college, getting ready to watch the world cup final. yay for HDTV. i guess if LENA HORNE is already in your grid, you should go with a non-lena OLIN clue. speaking of OLIN and the world cup, in the minutes after the USA was knocked out by ghana, i went out to get a pizza to drown (suffocate?) my sorrows, and ran into ACPT regular chris morse doing the exact same thing. turns out he lives two houses down from me! small world. anyway, he’s a chemistry prof at OLIN.

    evad, i think back when the f-hole got its name, people wrote their fs funny. really, in old-timey documents, i can’t tell lowercase s from f. and yeah, you can not watch 24, but everybody’s heard of CHLOE, right? i don’t think i could name any of the other characters (except jack, of course). i loved the LUTE clue, too, just because balalaikas remind me of “back in the USSR” and bouzokois remind me of the cheese shop sketch.

    gareth, WHAT’S CHRISTMAS doesn’t fit the theme! as for {New Deal inits.}, you’re SOL. that pretty much goes in the “could be anything” file, but the biggest are TVA, WPA, and AAA. oh, and FDR, obviously.

    loved the BEQ marching bands. RUSSA was the only fill that struck me as weak; everything else was good to great.

  12. sbmanion says:

    I remember Piels as Piels Real Draft. I can’t remember if I ever had any. I personally thought that of all the New York beers, the best was Genesee, which was advertised as “cold-aged” and in fact it tasted colder than any other beer I have ever had. It wasn’t great, but it was good for the price. Here’s a great list of New York beers by city:

    One story that I heard about Buffalo was that in the early 20th century it was home to some of the great brewmasters of the world. When Prohibition came, many of them moved over the border to Canada and that is why Canadian beers are so great. I do not know if this story is aprocryphal, but it is definitely part of Buffalo lore.


  13. Karen says:

    Joon, we used to refer to Massachusetts as Maffachufetts in college, cuz that’s what it looked like with the old time S’s (there was some rule that they looked like F’s in the middle of the word, but not the end).
    I don’t watch 24, and don’t know anyone other than Jack.

  14. Zulema says:


    I think you were kidding, but it’s a “lessee,” the person who lets from the LETTER, who exists only in crosswords and is otherwise known as a “lessor.”

    I picked up some Genesee Ale in Vermont last week, and it had no taste at all.

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