Tuesday, 10/5/10

Jonesin’ 3:40
NYT 3:26
LAT 3:22 (Jeffrey)
CS untimed

Paula Gamache’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 2“Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry….” Paula takes the DON MCLEAN classic “American Pie” and spins a theme out of it. “They were singin’…”:

  • 17a. [*Bid adieu, informally] clues SAY BYE-BYE.
  • 26a. [*Failure by a narrow margin] clues NEAR MISS. This noun has two divergent meanings: the intended thing you missed by a narrow margin vs. the lucky miss, as in a narrowly escaped car crash.
  • 40a. [*Like Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan] clues AFRICAN-AMERICAN. I thought of two other salient details they share first: They’re both filthy rich and they’re both Chicago(area)ans.
  • 51a. [*It’s often ordered a la mode] refers to APPLE PIE.
  • 62a. DON MCLEAN is the [Singer of the lyric formed by the ends of the answers to the four starred clues].

I like the way the theme plays out. I had no idea where the theme was going until I reached DON M. in the grid.

Favorite fill:

  • 26d. NO TASTE is a [Characteristic of bland food and bad dressers]. Possibly this is not really a good entry (would you want to see NO APPETITE? NO TIME?) but I like the two meanings of TASTE alluded to in the clue.
  • 37d. A SCOOPNECK is a [Cleavage-revealing dress feature].
  • 3d. I like a good full name in the fill. Here we have ROY ROGERS. Boy, did I need to work the crossings to get his name. The clue, [King of the Cowboys], meant exactly nothing to me. “King of the Road” = hobo. King of the Dallas Cowboys?

Fill I didn’t care for: D’ESTE, A SIP, ADES, SKAT, a baseball EARLE, SSE, REL, ELEV.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Grab Some Cash”

Region capture 1Where’s the quickest place to grab some cash? Short of lifting someone’s wallet, visiting the ATM is your best bet. The four longest answers in this grid contain a hidden ATM (which I’ve circled in my grid) spanning two words:

  • 18a. [They think alike, according to the saying] clues GREAT MINDS. One could argue that this isn’t a stand-alone term, but I say that while great minds may sort of be just an adjective+noun phrase, it’s “in the language” given how often people use “Great minds…” as shorthand for “Great minds think alike.”
  • 51a. [Rite of passage for girls] who are practicing Jews is the BAT MITZVAH.
  • 9d. [The dating scene, to some] is a MEAT MARKET. I wonder how many loves have begun at the butcher shop.
  • 25d. [It can be 1%] clues LOWFAT MILK. Don’t you hate it when all the skim milk is due to expire in a few days so you have to buy 1% instead? Two gallons in a row, I tell you!

What I really liked about this puzzle is that you could solve it without paying the slightest attention to the theme and experience it as a themeless puzzle. A word count of just 68 with four theme entries?? That’s impressive. Highlights:

  • Go figure. I like the two ALs, AL DENTE and AL FRESCO. I like to think they’re best friends who have gone into the restaurant business. Italian restaurant with a lovely patio, right?
  • 1d. BOGGLE is a [Word game with dice]. Man, I remember an old Windows version of Boggle in the late ’90s that I played on my husband’s PC. It was completely addictive. There was one version where the letters all zoomed at you through space and you had to find those words fastfastfast. Ooh, I liked that gameplay option.
  • 34a, 11d. [Rancid’s category] is PUNK, and the STOOGES were (are?) [Iggy Pop’s backup group, with “The”]. Too bad the word to the left of PUNK is WAFT and not DAFT.
  • 35d. [Spanish tennis champ ___ Sanchez Vicario] has a great first name: ARANTXA. That’s a Basque name derived from Arantzazu.
  • 6d. STUMPY is a fun word, isn’t it? And one nobody much wants applied to themselves. [Short and thick] could also clue STUBBY.
  • 14d. SPINOUTS are [Driving disasters].
  • 10d. [Discreetly] clues ON THE D.L., which means “on the down-low.” It refers to both generic discretion and the gay lifestyle practiced on the sly by purportedly straight men. Paging Eddie Long…
  • 52d. [Gozer’s minion, in “Ghostbusters”] is named ZUUL. Zuul is the demigod haunting Sigourney Weaver’s apartment. (Gozer’s a full-fledged god, more powerful than Zuul.) I’ve seen this in a crossword at least once before, but only in an indie puzzle. Possibly a previous Jonesin’.

Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jeffrey’s review

LAT Oct 5 10 Hi, its Jeffrey on my new Tuesday gig. Once a week on Friday was a little much for my schedule, so after intense negotiations with Amy, I cut my weekly blogging down to puzzles by other Jeffs. No actually, I am down to three puzzles, one on Tuesday and two on Thursday. Much better.

Theme: 62A. [2004 Adam Sandler movie, and a hint to the puzzle theme found in 17-, 28-, 38- and 45-Across] – SPANGLISH. We’ve got four Spanish words that have entered the English language.

Theme  answers:

  • 17A. [Site for flashy couples dancing] – SALSA CLUB. Are the couples flashy or is it the dance?
  • 28A. [Annual college football game in Arizona] – FIESTA BOWL
  • 38A. [Spicy deep-fried stuffed appetizers] – JALAPENO POPPERS. I wanted to put peppers. Wouldn’t you like to be a pepper too?
  • 45A. [Nap period, in Latin America] – SIESTA TIME

Other stuff:

  • 1A. [Houlihan portrayer in 5-Across] – SWIT/5A. [Korean War sitcom] – M*A*S*H. Nice opening one/two combo
  • 57A. [Emulates Jell-O] – WIGGLES. Fun word to say.
  • 67A. [Musical Carpenter] – KAREN
  • 5D. [Appliance brand that helps you wake up?] – MR COFFEE. Why isn’t there a MR  TEA?
  • 11D. [Israel’s Golda] – MEIR/12D. [“The Godfather” author Mario] – PUZO. Golda Puzo and Mario Meir doesn’t sound quite right.
  • 35D. [The “m” in E = mc²] – MASS. Energy = mass times the speed of light squared. joon, please elaborate.
  • 39D. [Broadway flier] – PETER PAN. Could also be Mary Poppins, or the Wicked Witch.
  • 41D. [“I just flew in, and boy are my arms tired!,” e.g.] – ONE-LINER. That used to be funny. Now it fits the level of airline service provided.

Not much more to say. A pleasant Tuesday.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Have a Ball!”—Janie’s review

And you can have a great time indeed with Tyler’s tribute to the [Soft stuff found in this puzzle’s four longest Across entries]. As 63-Across clues us, this is NERF, the acronym for Non-Expanding Recreational Foam. As you can see, NERF products come in many shapes (for many sports) and in many colors. Here’s how they show up in the puzzle:

  • 18A. INNER FOCUS [What meditation promotes]. For too long I was tryin’ for INNER PEACE. Not today…
  • 25A. DESIGNER FUR [An animal rights activist may dump paint on it]. Not unlike PETA…which, btw, does agree that domestic animals should be NEUTERED [Kept from reproducing, as a pet].
  • 43A. TURNER FIELD [Home of the Braves.] Here, however, they use hard balls. And in Camden Yards, too, that’s what you’ll find any ORIOLE [Baltimore ballplayer] tossin’ around.
  • 55A. DINNER FORK [Part of a place setting]. IF NEED BE [Should the situation call for it], here’s a little refresher on the etiquette for “proper” (formal) place settings.

Four-time World Heavyweight titlist Evander HOLYFIELD is clued today with the grizzly reminder that he’s the [Boxer who had his ear bitten by Tyson]—and his presence in the grid legitimately gives us a “two field” puzzle. (Another historic—and more well-mannered—representative of the sports world comes in the form of EDERLE [Gertrude who was the first woman to swim the English Channel].) Now had Holyfield wished to sue Tyson anonymously, within the judicial system, he might have done so as RICHARD ROE [Name for an anonymous person in court, maybe]. He and his female counterpart Jane (as in Roe v. Wade) are first cousins to John and Jane Doe (the names usually attached to unidentified corpses)…

[Frozen food pioneer Clarence] BIRDSEYE always summons up the apocryphal story about Ethel Merman who, when asked by Irving Berlin (who knew just how to write for the lady’s “money notes”) for some lyric changes to “Hostess with the Mostes’…” (a few days before the opening of Call Me Madam), categorically replied: “Call me Miss Bird’s Eye [sic]. It’s frozen.”

Someone who [Begins attacking] STARTS IN ON you (see Holyfield above…), is likely not to be someone whose friendship you want to encourage. Still, Tyler gives us ways of coping today. One either STAYS MAD [Holds a grudge] or SEES PAST [Forgives, as a flaw] the offender or offense. I do love how these phrases balance each other temperamentally—and symmetrically in the grid. Finally (looking at tie-ins), probably the only way you’ll see [Counselor Deanna] TROI [of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”] is IN RERUNS [Like many TV shows, during the summer] (and on cable…).

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12 Responses to Tuesday, 10/5/10

  1. Jeffrey says:

    Oh my. I just found the Brady Bunch cover of (half of) American Pie

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Agree, the Jonesin’ grid is awesome. One of my favorites that Matt has done.

  3. JaxInL.A. says:

    Hey, Tuesday’s NYT puzzle has an American Pie song theme. Funny how these things work. So sorry that the Bradys tried to sing. Ouch.

  4. Howard B says:

    Prior to meeting my wife, I would have needed every single letter of SCOOP NECK from the crossings :). So much to learn… Will check out the remaining puzzles late tonight, as the ol’ hockey team has a bye this week, which means a little extra puzzle time.

    @Jeffrey: I have heard that version before. It’s no Shatner “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” cover, but it’ll do.

  5. marciemar says:

    You’re way too young to have grown up watching “Roy Rogers, the King of the Cowboys and Dale Evans, Queen of the West” along with his Palomino Trigger and wonder-dog Bullet. A little moral lesson at the end of each story, and the classic “Happy Trails to You” in perfect harmony. I sure remember those… ah, but what did I have for breakfast?

  6. Steve Salitan says:

    Ah, American Pie with the Paula G flourish that is her signature. A melding of the French culture, baseball and nifty nostalgia. I loved it!

  7. Jan says:

    Dear Amy,
    I have a very unusual puzzle to send you that is a bit of a scavenger hunt.
    Please send me your email address & I will send you the link!!

    My name is Jan and my email is jandiz.estrada[at]gmail[dot]com

  8. joon says:

    low word count day. i’ll take it. tyler’s 72 has been one-upped (or actually, four-downed) by the 68 in the jonesin’! both great grids, although the jonesin’ is flashier, as is typical.

    jeffrey, what do you want me to say about special relativity? matter and energy are equivalent? well, they are. and c^2 is a big constant. you can convert a leeeetle bit of matter into a lotttta energy if you blow it up just right. very useful for things like stars, but unfortunately there are also things like nuclear weapons.

  9. Alex says:

    I’m thinking I know what the seed entry was for Tyler’s puzzle.

  10. *David* says:

    Would that have anything to do with the Braves? :)

  11. Zulema says:

    Amy, this is the next day, but perhaps you’ll read it. About “Like Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan,” doesn’t the AND in a clue always call for plural, and if the singular answer is wanted it says OR instead of AND? This really bothered me but I guess I forgot it soon enough.

  12. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Zulema, it’s being used as an adjective, given the word “like” at the beginning of the clue. [Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan, e.g.] could be a clue for AFRICANAMERICANS in the plural.

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