Friday, 9/24/10

CHE 4:29
LAT 4:21
NYT 4:14
CS untimed

Mark Diehl’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 15Hang on a second. I just counted and the word count is a mere 62 words? Dang! Color me impressed. Four intersecting 15s plus pairs of 13s, 11s, and 9s and assorted 7s? Some of these long entries are stone-cold great, and the fill’s smooth enough that I made it through the grid in an easy-Friday amount of time. Well played, Mark Diehl.

Potential pitfalls:

  • 12d. [David of “St. Elsewhere”] is BIRNEY. He’s not too familiar these days, and in fact his name was never too big. I believe he was once married to Meredith Baxter, who first came to fame as Meredith Baxter-Birney. Didn’t she out herself recently?
  • 20a. Wait, the instrument is also a verb? LUTED is clued as [Performed as a minstrel, maybe]. Probably more inferrable than the unquestionably-correct-as-a-verb LUTED that has to do with cementing. Ask your dentist when’s the last time she luted something, and she’ll tell you about the latest luting agents she’s using.
  • 50a. GOOGLE DIRECTORY is clued [Aid to researching 35-Downs by topic]. Google has a directory? I had no idea. 35d is WEBSITE, a [Free cookie distributor] that deposits cookies on your hard drive.
  • 49d. [Credits date for “Cinderella” and “All About Eve”] is MCML, or 1950. Did you use the trivia clue to narrow down the date, or wait for the crossings to give you the Roman numeral? I’m in group B.


  • 1a. I like REDUCE SPEED, the [Construction zone sign], but only in a crossword puzzle. I don’t want to hit a construction zone when driving.
  • 14a. WIDE SARGASSO SEA is a [Jean Rhys opus]. Do you know this reference mainly from crosswords?
  • 25a. The EYE is a [Ball in a socket]. Ha! Love it.
  • 52a. [Ganging up on, in basketball] clues TRIPLE TEAMING. I started with DOUBLE TEAMING but that B wasn’t looking good in 44d.
  • 5d. CORPORATE RAIDER is clued by example: [Carl Icahn or T. Boone Pickens].
  • 7d. [September happenings, often] are television SEASON PREMIERES. I hope my DVR recorded 30 Rock tonight. And when does Modern Family start up?
  • 8d. I was lost with *SS* in place. [Tip preceder, maybe]? The crossings gave me “PSST…” Good stuff.
  • 10d. Great clue: The bible book EXODUS is clued as [Escapist reading?].
  • 36d. [They sometimes create a scene] clues WALK-ONS, i.e., extras on a film set.

Kelsey Blakley’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 12I’ve always been a fan of SPOONERISMs, but I’m less enthusiastic about this two-pronged theme than you might think, what with a couple distracting irregularities. Here are the theme entries, all spoonerisms that end with ___ KNIVES:

  • 17a. [Choose deli platter items?] flips chickpeas into PICK CHEESE, which is an awkward little phrase. I may have a small cheese knife of some sort in my utensil drawer.
  • 25a. [Beef marinated in Jim’s bourbon?] clues BEAM STEAK, which is mildly plausible as a restaurant item, though the “Jim” would be in the name. It’s a spoonerism of…what? Is steam-bake a cooking term? STEAMY crosses this, but I don’t see de-spoonerized words crossing the other theme entries. I have steak knives in my kitchen, but no steam-baking goes on in there.
  • 34a. [Rooster’s spread?] clues COCK’S BUTTER, and there are a number of double entendres floating through my head. I do have a butter knife. But I have a problem here, because the unspoonerized term is box cutter, which is a type of knife. That’s distracting, that it’s knife before and half knife after, when the other theme entries are only in the half-knife-after category.
  • 49a. [“Casablanca” nightclub income?] is RICK BREAD (brick red). I love my bread knife so much, it doesn’t go back into the knife block. It lives in a niche on the counter.
  • 55a. [Ironically, the 58-Acrosses in this puzzle end in types of them] clues KNIVES. Why is that ironic? Is this spoon(er)/knife utensil humor? Reverend Spooner has naught to do with spoons.
  • 58a. [What each of the other four longest answers in this puzzle is] is a SPOONERISM.

Where the theme really lost me is that these spoonerisms aren’t funny. When my parents were dating, my grandma told my dad, “Claudia’s a great bed breaker.” See? That’s funny. Messing up “steam-bake” as “Beam steak” is just weird.

Nine more clues:

  • 5a. [Legendary brothers in law] are the EARPS. If they’re brothers-in-law, how did they end up with the same last na…oh! Never mind. Brothers, working in law. Okay, awesome clue.
  • 30a. [Shooting gadget] clues SYRINGE. When I think of syringes and shooting, I think of shooting up. Giving someone a shot ≠ “shooting.”
  • 33a. [Dutch physics Nobelist Simon van der __] was an all-the-crossings-are-needed answer, MEER. Clue that as the Dutch word for “sea” and I would’ve had a shot at it.
  • 38a, 44d. [Shelled out] is PAID and [Take-home] is NET PAY. That’s a lot of paying.
  • 51a. [Friend of Jesús] the Spanish speaker is AMIGO.
  • 3d. The BICEPS muscle is an [Arm & Hammer logo feature].
  • 6d. [It may be blonde or brown] clues ALE. Make mine amber, red, or brown, please.
  • 13d. [British : trainer :: American : __] SNEAKER. Chicagoans call ’em gym shoes.

Patrick Berry’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Character References”

Region capture 14Patrick’s erudite theme gathers a party full of nouns that arose from literary characters by those names. If you (a) knew all the nouns, (b) knew they came from literature, and (c) have at least a passing familiarity with the relevant works of literature, please give yourself a cookie and a pat on the back right away. Good for you! No cookie for me. The theme entries are as follows:

  • 14a. [One who hypocritically pretends to be pious] is TARTUFFE, from Moliere
  • 17a. [One who’s adept at solving mysteries] is SHERLOCK, after Arthur Conan Doyle’s S. Holmes. The phrase “No shit, Sherlock” amuses me.
  • 20a. [One who’s grouchy and miserly] is a SCROOGE, from Dickens.
  • 27a. [One who’s absurdly optimistic] is a POLLYANNA. I wanted Pangloss here, and I didn’t know that Pollyanna is from literature. From Eleanor Hodgman Porter’s children’s stories from the early 20th century, the dictionary tells me.
  • 35a. [One who has grandiose daydreams but a humdrum actual life] is WALTER MITTY. The only member of the theme with first and last name as the noun/adjective. Thurber character.
  • 44a. [One who earnestly pitches woo] is LOCHINVAR. Not in the first dictionary I checked; not a name/noun I know.
  • 53a. BABBITT is [One who contentedly conforms to middle-class ideals]. Sinclair Lewis.
  • 59a. [One who dominates another by sheer force of personality] is a SVENGALI. From George du Maurier’s novel, the dictionary advises. What a weird character name. Half Swedish, half…Bengali? I’m partial to Elaine’s mispronunciation on Seinfeld: “Sven-jolly.”
  • 64a. [One who seduces women with ease] is a LOTHARIO. Super-familiar word, but where’s it from? Rowe’s Fair and Penitent, the dictionary tells me. I believe we are excused from being expected to know that reference.

Any Filipinos in the house? I wanted 46d: CEBUAN/[From the Philippines’ oldest Spanish town] to be one letter longer—Cebuano. You, too?

Other interesting spots in the fill included ERAGON, the LOW ROAD, non-melon CRENSHAW, and an Alanis Morissette song I don’t know, “YOU LEARN.”

Did you know what 23d: EPEE meant? [It means “sword” in French].

Least familiar word  in the puzzle: The key word in the clue for 21a, [Galleass’s three]. Inflected by “galleon” and “galley,” I suspected it was a boat and worked out MASTS, but I’ve never seen galleass before.

Updated Friday morning:

Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Home Movies”—Janie’s review

The last words in each of Sarah’s theme movie-titles are not so much synonyms for the word “home” as an array of places one might take up residence—longer-term (apartment, house) or shorter- (shack, hotel [keeping in mind that the residential hotel is not completely a thing of the past]). Of course there’s always the saying that “home is where the heart is”—so, “be it ever so humble,” here’s today’s quadruple bill of “‘home’ movies”:

  • 17A. CADDYSHACK [1980 Chevy Chase comedy]. Never saw it…and even with its decent rating at IMDB, can’t say as it sounds like a “must see.” I love a good comedy, but must be in the right frame of mind to appreciate the “goof-ball” stuff.
  • 26A. THE APARTMENT [1960 Jack Lemmon/Shirley MacLaine romantic comedy]. Am always surprised to see this highly celebrated film—which includes a suicide attempt—described as a comedy. Not that it’s humorless. But it’s also very serious in depicting ways people are victims/victimized. More a romantic dramedy for my money. This one was adapted to the musical stage most successfully (currently enjoying its first revival on Broadway some 40 years after its debut) where it goes by the name Promises, Promises (with a score by some pop writers named Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and a book by a guy named Neil Simon…).
  • 44A. LIFE AS A HOUSE [2001 Kevin Kline drama]. Never saw this one either, and while it’s decidedly on the “serious” side, it also sounds like I’ll be adding this to my wish-list at the library. Seems that when we first meet our hero, the dwelling he’s living in is described as a shack
  • 60A. GRAND HOTEL [1932 Greta Garbo romantic drama]. Ah—this is the one in which Garbo famously says, “I want to be alone.” In year five of the Academy Awards, Grand Hotel took the Oscar for Best Picture. In 1989, this movie, too, was adapted for musical theatre and it was deservedly nominated for any number of Tonys in 1990, including one for 30 Rock‘s Jane Krakowski. (Fans of Evening Shade may remember Michael Jeter. He won a Tony for his performance.)

Since it just appeared yesterday, I didn’t love seeing [Lion’s share] for MOST again; but I sure did enjoy these […?] clue/fill pairs: [Touchy king?] for MIDAS (the original Goldfinger), [Unlucky Roman number?] for the graphic XIII, [Airline carriers?] for SKY CAPS (the folks who carry/handle luggage for the airlines), [Is in the past?] for WAS (the past tense of “is”…), and most especially [Sound elicited by an electric can opener?] for “MEOW!” (think cause-and-effect here).

Fave fill? SHUSHES and STOPGAP, MAHLER and EXEMPT, the rhyming SWEE and GLEE (which follow one another in the far right column), and WISHING which comes to us as a [Type of well].

We have another example today of fill that repeats something from an unrelated clue. [Goddess of the hunt] is DIANA; [“Diana” vocalist Paul] is ANKA. The name’s the same—but that’s about it, so I’m guessing this kind of duplication is fair game.

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15 Responses to Friday, 9/24/10

  1. sbmanion says:

    Definitely on the easy side, although I discovered from reading your blog that I missed a letter. I put in MATER instead of MAKER leading to WALTONS going down. It never dawned on me that I was wrong and I was wondering in particular how WALTONS could be right.


  2. ArtLvr says:

    With so much white space, I don’t make too many wild stabs. The Zone at 1A in the NYT could be a HARD HAT AREA, which would make a mess. When in doubt, leave it out!

    Thus I started with odd spots filled in: UTA, ERICH, ERECTS, SEWELL, MAE WEST, CREME, ELBA, EAU, MCML and MAKER, plus ARRAY on reserve for 43A in the SW. Sometimes lots of names are a big help, but they mostly annoy me, especially piled together like CRAIG/ DERMOT/ MARGIE. That’s usually just pesky and pernicious TRIPLE TEAMING.

    Since we figured out a while ago that the odds are great of a crossover word from one day’s puzzles to the next, my little end game is to find one — wow, BARITONES! And my favorite clue was awful Anathema, with a super fill the (related?) CORPORATE RAIDER!

  3. Matt says:

    I found this one relatively tough– none of the 14/15 entries was easy for me. Also I had DEITY instead of MAKER for 49A, and RATS/VETS for 21A which slowed down the SE and NW corners considerably. Not actually complaining, though, a very nice puzzle.

  4. Gareth says:

    Not here… Except for the top-left and bottom-right that puzzle had me nearly in tears! Crazy thing is I had fingers into the rest of the puzzle but nothing wanted to flow! Hand up for DOUBLETEAMING – never knew there was such a thing as TRIPLETEAMING. It’s easy to get grumpy about clues when you’ve been totally pawned by a puzzle… but the “free” in 35D doesn’t make any sense as a qualifier in that context! Also had BARNEY not BIRNEY because well it’s a helluva lot more plausible as a name! Long downs at 5 and 7 were totally mysterious even with their top halves in place – CORPOR(AL/ATE) something, SEASON(AL?) something. Definitely an amazing piece of constructing even though it was a hair-puller to solve! Think I’ve had this experience with Mark Diehl puzzles before though!

  5. Howard B says:

    I think you’re only likely to see triple-teaming in a very specific game situation, when a coach believes it is a near-certainty that a certain player will be taking a shot. Usually a superstar player or a player on a hot shooting streak, and with just enough time left on the clock to receive one pass and shoot. The defensive coach might then put additional defenders on that player, risking the triple-team against the lower-percentage chance of leaving another player open to shoot.

    Keep in mind, this is also from someone who didn’t even win in many street pickup games, who can only hope to touch the rim on a vertical leap. If I were to create my own country and register for the Olympics, I still might not qualify for their basketball team.

    Oh – smooth Friday NT Times, some of the proper names were a speed bump (MARGIE, BIRNEY, DERMOT, etc), otherwise nice. I never do know those actors.

  6. Sara says:

    WIDE SARGASSO SEA is a great book. I recently reread it and found stuck in the pages a half-finished crossword puzzle, Wednesday-ish, must have been from twenty years ago. Finished it!

  7. joon says:

    DERMOT, for whatever reason, is a name that was kicking around my brain, so i filled that in even though i couldn’t pick dermot mulroney out of a police lineup. other than that, dropping WIDE SARGASSO SEA and CORPORATE RAIDER in from the get-go made this a pretty fast solve. i’m still not 100% i know what the latter actually is or does, but i know i got burned by {Corporate raider Carl} ICAHN in a NYT puzzle within the past year, so … yeah. who needs knowledge when you’ve got word association working for you?

    WIDE SARGASSO SEA, btw, is reasonably famous outside of crosswords (although SARGASSO is a surprisingly frequent 8-letter fill answer). i certainly knew of it in college. it’s kind of a re-imagined prequel to jane eyre.

    triple-teaming is common enough when a player drives into the lane and the defense collapses around him. of course, if the offense has any sense of spacing, it’ll leave at least 2 guys open.

    CHE: i tried giving myself a pat on the back, but i dislocated my shoulder. i think i’ll be needing that cookie. lochinvar was only somewhat familiar, but i dredged it up—good thing, too, since i didn’t know CEBUAN. anyway, that’s the third 15x puzzle in the last two days with 8+ theme answers. remember when 3 used to be enough?

  8. David Rosen says:

    O! young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
    Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
    And save his good broadsword he weapons had none.
    He rode all unarmed and he rode all alone.
    So faithful in love and so dauntless in war,
    There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.
    –Sir Walter Scott

  9. john farmer says:

    My experiece was the same as Steve’s. I flew through the puzzle and had “the MATER” for “God.” It seemed a little odd, but figured it was just a novel use of gender.

    Very nice piece of work from Mark Diehl.

  10. John Haber says:

    The grid is a work of art (and takes a moment to realize it doesn’t actually have four-way symmetry, a fact that somehow adds a twist). I had trouble starting, other than UTA, with so many long crossings but then picked up speed.

    I didn’t get CORPORATE RAIDER until I had enough crossings to make RAIDER inevitable. BIRNEY, DERMOT, and ENBERG were all obscure to me, and from B_RNEY I first guessed BARNEY but obviously fixed it in the end.

    As to the date, nope. Neither. Didn’t know it and didn’t require crossings. I needed a 20th century date, so MCM_, and between 1901, 1910, and 1950, it was a no-brainer. I mean, I’m sure Disney was ahead of his time in a way (although more the embodiment of his time), but not quite that far ahead!

  11. LARRY says:

    I just checked the cast of St. Elsewhere for David Birney’s name, and it seems that he was in 22 episodes in the first two seasons 1981-2. No wonder I didn’t remember him. Apparently he made a career of playing Jews, altho he was of Irish descent. Maybe the producers were confused by the David part of his name.

  12. sps says:

    Pretty easy go of it for me today as the long ones came quickly. My book group read Rhys’s WSS recently so that helped and nothing really threw me. An easy Friday, thankfully…

  13. Howard B says:

    Thanks Joon, I completely forgot about that game situation. I never considered that a triple-team for some reason, more of an unplanned pileup on the attacking player just before the foul call, or the pass back out to the wide-open, unguarded player for a 3-point shot. But a legit use of TRIPLE TEAMING nonetheless, not to mention painful for the player holding the ball in the lane.

    Question: do they also use this term in soccer, if a player enters the goal box with the ball, but with 3 defenders waiting to pounce? Or is it more basketball / court game specific?

  14. sbmanion says:

    John, Glad I am not alone.

    Howard, I was once in a pickup game and my best friend slipped as he went up for a shot. He never even reached his vertical height as a result and I STUFFED HIM!!!!! I never let him live it down. Someday, I hope to be triple-teamed or even double- teamed or even single-teamed.

    The whole white men can’t jump or play was lampooned in a Simpsons episode in which Bart and Millhouse join the Canadian National team:

    Sorry, Steve Nash


  15. John Haber says:

    “Triple teaming” doesn’t exactly spring to mind (or seem a great strategy), but by the time I had enough crossings to guess TEAMING, I also had the I and couldn’t enter “double,” which helped me avoid a mistake.

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