Tuesday, 8/17/10

NYT 3:34
Jonesin’ 3:21
LAT 2:55
CS untimed

Michael Sharp’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 16This puzzle marks the debut of Michael Sharp, a.k.a. Rex Parker. He told me a couple weeks ago that his crossword was coming out Tuesday, August 17, but that he had submitted it as a Wednesday. Hey! I will agree with Michael that this is more appropriate for Wednesday, given the overall difficulty and the non-Tuesdayishness of much of the fill.

The theme is 37a: SOS—four phrases with S.O.S. initials. Here they are:

  • 17a. SAWED-OFF SHOTGUN is a [Weapon for Clyde Barrow] of Bonnie and Clyde fame.
  • 27a. [Loafers, e.g.] are SLIP-ON SHOES.
  • 42a. [Tired routine, colloquially] is SAME OLD…wait, how colloquial are we going here? Because SAME OLD SONG isn’t at all what I was thinking. I quizzed my husband and he had the same idea I did.
  • 53a. Ah, SOUNDS OF SILENCE, the [1966 album that concludes with “I Am a Rock”].

In the “Wait, are you sure it’s Tuesday?” category or in the “Really?” classification, we have these:

  • 1a. Good gravy, GALOPS? [Some Strauss compositions] are “lively ballroom dances in duple time, popular in the 18th century,” called GALOPS. See? Not a Tuesdayish way to start the puzzle.
  • 11a. [Thanksgiving side dish] is one lonely YAM. I guess it’s Thanksgiving for one.
  • 22a. “IT’S LATE” is apparently a [1959 top 10 hit for Ricky Nelson]. Briefly considered AM I LATE and TOO LATE because I don’t know the song.
  • 35a. Wasn’t expecting a non-Q.E.D. clue like [“In principio ___ Verbum” (words from John 1:1)] for ERAT. (On Tuesday??) Pretty sure the bible wasn’t originally written in Latin. I read the clue as being a quote from a pope named John (whoops).
  • 39a. GROT is a [Small cave, poetically]. See, now that could have been changed to TROT, making the crossing IN RATS, or [How a cat or snake is willing to accept payment].
  • 42a. REMAP means to [Chart again]. Re-meh. You know what needs remapping? The American Museum of Natural History in New York. Horrible layout and signage. I was both bored and annoyed there.
  • 18d. [Independent, in Ingolstadt] uses an obscure German I-town for purposes of alliteration, which doesn’t make it any easier to get FREI if you don’t know it already. Apparently automaker Audi abides in Ingolstadt.
  • 48d. APEAK means [Vertically, to a sailor]. I give BOOS to nauticalese.
  • 54d. French OIE is clued via [Confit d’___ (potted goose)]. Oie vey!

Groovy bits:

  • 14a. “I DO NOT!” is indeed a [Defensive statement] someone might say. Worlds better than a “playground retort” entry.
  • 12a. Love the word WRAITH—a [Specter].
  • 62a. I absolutely was stumped by the DYES clue: [They make the highlights in highlights]. I thought of Highlights for Children and of headlights rather than my last trip to the hair salon.
  • 5d, PODCASTS are [Some iTunes downloads]. I’m a week or two behind on Ryan-and-Brian-of-Lollapuzzoola-fame’s crossword podcast, “Fill Me In.” It’s good stuff.  If you write to them, you may hear your words on the next podcast.
  • 9d. SCHWINN has been a [Bicycle maker since 1895]. By the way, there are 26 fill answers  in the 6- to 8-letter range. That’s a lot. Same lowish word count (74) as the Monday L.A. Times crossword.
  • 33d. “LET ‘EM IN” is Paul McCartney’s [1976 hit that begins “Someone’s knockin’ at the door”]. Sister Susie, Martin Luther, brother John? The year is 1517, and Martin L. wasn’t knockin’ at the door, he was nailin’ 95 theses on the door. Common misconception.
  • 38d. HOG CALLS are [Noises from a county fair contest]. I believe it has been a long, long time since Cook County, Ill., had a county fair. My favorite hog call is “sister soooooey!”
  • 51d. [Ornery sort] clues CUSS. You know who can be an ornery cuss sometimes? That Rex Parker fella, that’s who.
  • 55d. NMI, short for “no middle initial,” is clued with [It indicates a void in some govt. records]. I like this because I learned it from one of my editorial board members back in the ’90s, whereas when it showed up in an NYT crossword a couple years ago, Rex had a classic rant about it being crappy fill because he and his wife didn’t know it. I reckon he included it here with a massive wink.

Steve Salitan’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 17The day’s other debut crossword is right here, and I was tipped off by the constructor himself at Lollapuzzoola 3 on Saturday. Steve said, “Please be nice.” I dunno. I heard he offered to buy a drink for PuzzleGirl of L.A. Crossword Confidential, but there was no such bribe offered to me. And what’s crazy is that a little palm-greasing with Presidents Jackson or Grant would have been surprisingly apt, given the theme of singers with presidential surnames:

  • 17a. [“Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” singer] is BRYAN ADAMS. I was fond of Mr. Canadian-Not-an-American-President Adams in the early ’80s, but have never heard of this song.
  • 29a. [“How Glad I Am” Grammy winner, 1964] clues jazz singer NANCY WILSON. Not to be confused with the Nancy Wilson of the rock band Heart.
  • 45a. [“Total Eclipse of the Heart” singer] is BONNIE TYLER. That song? It’s dreadful. Simply dreadful. The “literal version” of the music video is savagely funny, though.
  • 61a. ISAAC HAYES is the [1971 Oscar winner for “Theme from ‘Shaft'”]. He later expanded his fame as the voice of Chef on South Park.
  • The theme is continued with the not symmetrical and not-at-the-bottom-of-the-puzzle 12d/36d, […patriotic song that’s a hint to this puzzle’s theme], HAIL TO / THE CHIEF. I always enjoy a reference to that song thanks to the Kevin Kline movie Dave, in which Dave is showering at the White House and sings, “Hail to the Chief, he’s the one they all say ‘hail’ to. We all say hail ’cause he keeps himself so clean. He’s got the power, that’s why he’s in the shower.”

Rita Coolidge, Kate Bush, Janet and Mahalia and Joe and Michael Jackson, George Harrison, James Taylor, Amy Grant, Lita Ford, Aaron Carter, and George Clinton are all presumably off pouting that they weren’t included. If there’s a particular reason these four theme entries made the cut and all those other singers didn’t, it escapes me. Anyone?

Solid fill overall, Steve. Congrats on your debut!

Updated Tuesday morning:

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “In the Can”—Janie’s review

This was one of those puzzles for which I was slow in drawing the title/theme connection. At center, vertically, I saw that MGM LION [Studio mascot that starts movies off with a roar] and putting it together with the first two (actual) theme answers thought there was a “movie” theme here—since “in the can” is movie-talk for a film that’s finished shooting. But no. “The can” here is not the container for the reel, nor “the terlit,” but another word for the pokey, the stir, the clink, the calaboose. Jail. And the last word of each of the four theme phases is one that names something or someone you will find there. So, there’s:

17A. JACK WARDEN [Actor who played trainer Max Corkle in “Heaven Can Wait”]. One of the film industry’s great character men was Mr. Warden (in this re-make/update of Here Comes Mr. Jordan—and in many, many other films).

27A. THE LONGEST YARD [1974 football film starring Burt Reynolds]. This one actually takes place in a prison yard… Coincidentally (perhaps), the protagonist of Heaven Can Wait is a football player, too.

43A. WHITE BLOOD CELL [Leukocyte]. ‘Tis what ’tis.

58A. RIGHT GUARD [Antiperspirant that comes in “Fresh Blast” and “Fast Break” scents]. I can sort of imagine the first one, but the second? Go figure. But I bet a lot of aspiring basketball players use it…

And there’s a sort of bonus, too. If this particular can were, say, San Quentin, it’s possible that [Dirty Harry’s employer (abbr.)], someone from the SFPD, may have been the prisoner’s arresting officer.

Lotso good fill and cluing of the non-theme variety as well. There’s a scrabbly cross at the top of KEN KESEY [Nurse Ratched’s creator] and “K-K-K-KATY” [The “only g-g-g-girl that I adore,” according to a WWI-era song]. And I do so like the way that EEE, the [Very wide shoe width] sits below K-K-K. LOW BALL [Make a chintzy offer] is a great phrase and clue, no? It’s also a phrase that seems never to have appeared before in a CS puzzle.

A LEI is that [Garland often made of plumerias] (which are in the oleander family). But it can also include flowers of the ORCHID family [Phalaenopsis or dendrobium, e.g.]. And had you ever heard of a PSEC [Infinitesimal fraction of a min.]? Stands for picosecond. How infinitesimal? From Wiki: “A picosecond is to one second as one second is to 31,700 years.” Yep. That’s pretty infinitesimal.

Wrapping up, [Gets ready for a drive] has nothing to do with automotive endeavors, but takes us to the golf course for TEES UP. Donna’s best clue today? That’d be the punny and funny [That’s a moray!] for EEL. Cute!

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “The Bleat Goes On”

Region capture 18Baa! That’s the name of the game this week:

  • 20a. [“East vs. West” sports event] is the NBA ALL-STAR GAME.
  • 26a. BABA AU RHUM is a [Liqueur-saturated dessert].
  • 34a. [Hip hop-pioneering DJ] clues AFRIKA BAMBAATAA.
  • 43a. The BAATH PARTY used to be [Saddam Hussein’s group]
  • 53a. Meerkat and warthog TIMON AND PUMBAA are your [Duo from “The Lion King”].

Two BAAs split across words, three intact BAAs—that’ll work. A 3/2 theme division is almost always better than a 4/1 discordance.

Hello! Did you notice that the sixth column of this grid takes the female superior position?

  • 21d. LABIA is a [Word before majora or minora]. So…if there were multiple Ursa Minor and Ursa Major constellations, those would be Ursae Minora and Ursae Majora? With the final A, the adjectives are pluralized?
  • 44d. [Like some implants] clues PENILE.

And now, eight not-at-all-lewd clues:

  • 51a. [Let out, like a fire hose] clues UNREEL. Have you ever been in a firehouse when they’ve got the hoses hanging up to drip dry before they get coiled up again? The world’s tallest clotheslines, I tell you. Hoses up to the ceiling, down into the basement.
  • 59a. [1970s Lincoln Continental] is the MARK V. Forgot that one existed. It was confusing for a kid in the ’70s. “Mark Vee,” not “Mark Five”—we weren’t yet hip to Roman numerals.
  • 60a. [Augustana’s record label] is EPIC. Wha?? It’s a band (roots rock) and yes, it’s sort of named after Illinois’s Augustana College.
  • 4d. [Musician’s practice with four sharps] is E SCALE. I don’t get “scales” at all unless you’re talking about fish or weights.
  • 9d. SMYRNA is an [Atlanta suburb named for an ancient Greek city]. Do you think there’s anyone named Myrna in Smyrna?
  • 10d. [The toe of Italy’s boot] is the CALABRIA region.
  • 37d. [Common relationship fear] clues INTIMACY. Wait, just how “common” is this fear?
  • 52d. [Gary who sang “It’s the only way to live in cars”] is Gary NUMAN, one of the first stars of New Wave music. Kind of a one-hit wonder. Raise your hand if you love synthesizer pop!
  • 55d. [Munches on, like an LOLcat] clues NOMS. As in “nom, nom, nom.”
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28 Responses to Tuesday, 8/17/10

  1. Rex says:

    Your YAM comment made me literally LOL. Thanks. Not my clue. But neither was the (lovely) DYES clue you cite: All Shortz.

  2. Gareth says:

    NYT: I know ITSLATE only too well, but it refused to come into my head (and now I wish it would leave) – with GALOPS and IDONOT up there too I struggled to finish off that section! Guess the pay-off of this puzzle is having SOUNDSOFSILENCE in the grid!

  3. Jeffrey says:

    Ok the video was always odd but Total Eclipse of the Heart is a brilliant song. Simply brilliant.

  4. Evad says:

    Congrats to Rex on his NYT debut…fun theme and fresh phrases! Hoping more are in the pipeline…

  5. pauer says:

    Congrats Michael and Steve! Both terrific debuts by two terrific guys.

  6. Torbach says:

    Exciting double debut today – congrats to Michael and Steve! Enjoyable puzzles, both – looking forward to the next ones, and I’ll be on the lookout for NAAN in both!

  7. Rex says:

    Yes, everybody look at Steve’s puzzle now!! Met him this weekend—really nice guy, and his clean 78-worder will help you forget some of the dreck that’s in my grid. Congrats, Steve.

  8. janie says:

    hail to both steve and michael — soooo nice to see both of yas on the constructor roster!

    for those who didn’t know, “have you ever really loved a woman?” practically takes up residence in the movie don juan de marco. depp, brando, dunaway. check it out!


  9. Steve Salitan says:

    I was super pleased to debut with Rex. Figured it took the heat off of me. Constructing is a total blast but getting to know the puzzle crowd has equally pleased me. An incredible bunch indeed.

  10. sbmanion says:

    I thought Rex’s debut was excellent and closer to a Thursday in difficulty than a Tuesday. I got the theme quickly and expected to see SOS either in the center or near the bottom, but it still had the feel of an easy late week themeless for me rather than the tough Tuesday it was.


  11. Sparky says:

    Sir Paul’s song: that’s Martin Luther King, Jr, John Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy.

  12. Howard B says:

    Congrats to Rex, and hey Steve, good to meet you at LP3. Had no idea you had a puzzle coming up. Fun solve with some unexpected fill in both.

  13. kratsman says:

    Amy, it’s funny that you referenced the “literal video version” of “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” I had never heard of these kind of videos until about 2 weeks ago when my daughter told me about them: “Duh, dad, they’ve been around for years.” So, I checked out a a dozen or so and some of them are absolutely hilarious. Recommended for other old fogies who haven’t discovered them yet.

  14. John Lampkin says:

    Congrats to Michael and Steve! Hope to see many more. Hey, how often do double debuts happen?

  15. Ashish says:

    Hey, didn’t I just see both yous guys over the weekend? Congrats Michael and Steve, nice debuts (easy and fair for Tuesdays, so no complaints).


  16. Harry says:

    Loved both of the debut puzzles – Steve’s was a little more early week for me, while Michael’s had a few rough patches. Both fun to solve.

    @Sparky – I believe you might be thinking of American Pie. Let ‘Em In references Paul’s family and friends.

  17. Matt Gaffney says:

    Oh, come on — SOMEONE has to write a Rex-style pan of his debut puzzle. How about this:

    “OIE! Woke up late and DID.NOT.LIKE.THIS.PUZZLE. Not one bit. Theme felt like the SAME OLD SONG, and GALOPS at 1-across put me in a foul mood. GROT!?!?! made me wish I had some GROT to stick in my eyes so I wouldn’t have to solve this anymore.

    NMI? WTF is NMI? If I were the {Ornery sort} I’d CUSS at APEAK and REMAP (“Honey, can you REMAP our way out of the jungle for me?”). And a solitary YAM is a side dish? Really? What is this, France?

    On the other hand, SCHWINN wasn’t too bad. I used to own a Schwinn in my youth. Or was it a Huffy?


    X-er (re: krap!)”

  18. Neville says:

    LOL, Matt! Congrats on the debut, Rex Sharp! er, Michael Parker!

    Thanks for the CS writeup, Janie – I missed the theme on this one! I was blowing through it – this may be why… more likely, though, I discounted prison b/c it seemed to obvious with THE LONGEST YARD thrown in there. Good to chat with you on Saturday, too! :)

  19. ktd says:

    Amy, that music video nearly had me falling out of my chair laughing! Thanks for the light moment. Congratulations to Michael and Steve on their debuts!

  20. janie says:

    back atcha, neville! and, hmm — looks like donna got us both…


  21. joon says:

    congrats to michael and steve. michael’s puzzle is my slowest ever recorded tuesday, but the fill held a lot of interest for me. i have to confess i was thinking the same thing as amy and rene when i got to SAME OLD S___. not enough letters for “story.”

    jeffrey: no, it really is a terrible song. give me safety dance any day. :)

    the jonesin’ was interesting, but i don’t know how i was supposed to get the middle theme answer. i ended up with AFRIKA BAMBA AMOA. some insane fill here.

  22. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Joon, I’m with you on preferring “Safety Dance” to the dreadful “Total Eclipse.” But the 42a answer we had in mind here had the same letter count as Michael’s entry.

  23. joon says:

    believe me, that’s what i was thinking too. STORY was the only other option, and it was too long.

  24. Jeffrey says:

    Hey, Bonnie Tyler even has a “crossword puzzle” on her web site.


  25. Ben B. says:

    Turn around, bright eyes.

  26. Howard B says:

    @Jeffrey: It’s all themed, true, but every now and then it falls apart.
    It seems to be on a home-brewed fansite, so can’t credit/fault Bonnie directly on that one.

  27. nicholas says:

    Jonesin: how is a ‘Dial’ a ‘Knob’??

  28. Evad says:

    @nicholas, I’m thinking of a radio or tv dial/knob. This may be before your time…*sigh*

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