Tuesday, 10/12/10

NYT 3:41
LAT 3:46 (Jeffrey)
Jonesin’ 4:09 (available at the Jonesin’ Google Groups page)
CS 5:49 (Evad)

IMG_20101011_163051This afternoon, the winds shifted to being from the northeast, and we experienced a wild microclimate effect: Along the Lake Michigan waterfront and in the immediately adjacent neighborhoods, dense fog blocked out the sun and dropped the temperatures by a good 15° or more. Meanwhile, a mile or two away, the sun continued to shine and there was not even a hint of fog. From where my son’s standing in the photo, on a clear day one can see halfway to the state of Michigan.

José Chardiet’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 9On the NYT’s applet, here’s what I saw in lieu of the byline: “What do the ans. to the starred clues have in common? (See Not.” I had to swing by the Wordplay blog just to find out who the constructor was: teenager José Chardiet. The Notepad gives away the answer rather than repeating the question. Aww, I didn’t have a chance to puzzle it out myself before I clicked on the Notepad and saw the answer: The starred clues begin with 3-letter abbreviations (mostly) for the months of the year, so there are 12 (shortish) theme entries. I did get thrown for a loop by starred 1-Across being tied to 38-Across by 38a’s clue, [See 1-Across]. That put JACKSONs in the forefront of my mind, which got me nowhere.

Theme entries include plural JANETS, FEBREZE spray, MARSALA wine, APROPOS, Metro Goldwyn MAYER, a JUNCTION, JULIETTE Lewis, AUGIE Doggie, SEPHORA cosmetics, the OCTOMOM, NO VOTES (splitting NOVember across two words, unlike the other 11 theme entries), and DECLAW. I give the constructor props for fitting in 80 squares of theme, building in the element of surprise in a strikingly non-Tuesdayish challenge, and having some lively fill. Highlights include:

  • 65a. [Productive] clues FERTILE, which is hilarious appearing beneath OCTOMOM. Though technically, she was infertile, and all those babies came about from the transfer of a boatload of embryos via IVF.
  • 14d. PAPA DOC is the [Nickname of the dictator who said “I know the Haitian people because I am the Haitian people”]. Great entry, terrible man.
  • Those triple-stacked 7s in the puzzle’s midsection are beautiful. PAJAMAS + SHUTOUT + SYNERGY is wonderful, and those words cross two theme answers as well as PSST and STYX. On the right side, MERITED appears between GYRATED and TRAGEDY—which are anagrams of each other!

I don’t care for the 7d clue, [Outcast]. Why not clue LEPER as [Person with Hansen’s disease, historically]? Why perpetuate the disease’s stigma?

Meredith Ito’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jeffrey’s review

Meredith Ito is an anagram for “I’m the Editor,” so this is likely a Rich Norris creation.

Theme:  60A. [Superman” publisher, and this puzzle’s title] – DC COMICS

Theme answers:

  • 17A. [“Vicious Circle” stand-up guy] – DANE COOK. Never heard of him.
  • 25A. [Stand-up guy who played Tobias Fünke on “Arrested Development”] – DAVID CROSS. Never heard of him.
  • 36A. [Stand-up guy with his own sitcom, 1995-2004] – DREW CAREY. Heard of him.
  • 51A. [Stand-up guy with multiple “SNL” personas] – DANA CARVEY. Heard of him.

Comics with initials D.C. Whatever. I want to talk about DC Comics. Before crosswords, before Disney, there was DC Comics. I had literally thousands of comics, most of them DC. At one point, I had over 300 consecutive issues of Superman (25+ years worth). Marvel was cooler at the time, but I was a DC guy.hyperman charles leblanc

Other stuff:

  • 1A. [See 4-Across] – RIG/4A. [With 1-Across, fix à la MacGyver] – JURY. The order reversal bugged me, for some reason.
  • 15A. [“Lonely Boy” singer] – ANKA
  • 16A. [Hypothetical primate] – APE MAN
  • 19A. [Explosion sound] – KABOOM. I like KABOOM better than kapow, but less than kerplop.
  • 20A. [Spiral-shelled mollusk] – WHELK. Of course it is.
  • 29A. [Carpenter’s fastener] – NAIL GUN. Shouldn’t it be called a hammer gun?
  • 46A. [Predicting a market decline] – BEARISH. Yogi-esque?
  • 49A. [Husky, e.g.] – SLED DOG. Others? Alaskan malamute? Not Krypto.
  • 65A. [Rebellious Turner] – NAT. Only way to clue NAT. Not that horrible baseball team stolen from Montreal.
  • 67A. [Loser to paper and winner over scissors] – ROCK. This is referring to the game called rock, paper, scissors.
  • 1D. [Joe Louis Arena hockey player] – RED WING. There can be a left-wing RED WING or a right-wing RED WING. Joe Louis was neither.
  • 2D. [Pocatello resident] – IDAHOAN.  Pocatello is the U.S. Smile Capital. So this is sort of related to the theme. Isn’t that funny?
  • 7D. [Comedian Smirnoff] – YAKOV. If there is a YS Comics, another theme answer.
  • 11D. [Loving, to Luisa] – AMOROSA. That funny lady from The Apprentice. (Okay, that’s Omarosa.)
  • 25D. [“Bro!”] – DUDE! Turtle Talk, dude!
  • 28D. [Golfer Sabbatini] – RORY. I knew this.
  • 38D. [__-poly] – ROLY. Is RORY ROLY? Or is he ROPY?
  • 40D. [Potter’s friend Ron] – WEASLEY. There are lots of Weasleys in Harry Potter.
  • 43D. [“Sweet” girl in a barbershop song] – ADELINE
  • 52D. [Skywalker’s nemesis] – VADER. Luke, I am your nemesis!

Up, up and away!

Updated Tuesday morning:

Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Chop-Chop!”—Evad’s review

IMG_0002 Ms. Keller comes up with “choppers” found in four rather diverse places:

  • …in the kitchen: GINSU KNIFE. Can you buy one of these anymore? I remember it was so sharp, it could cut a tomato, but so can most knives we have in our kitchen.
  • …in the sky: HELICOPTER. brando
  • …in “The Wild One”: MOTORCYCLE. We’ve been watching a few old Brando movies lately (Streetcar and Waterfront), but not this one. I think of CHiP’s Erik Estrada when I think of men on bikes.
  • …in the forest: LUMBERJACK. Sounds like a great time for a plug of Monty Python’s The Lumberjack Song.
  • The only choppers missing seem to be the ones a dentist would find in a patient’s mouth, but I’m ok without reminders of dentistry in my puzzles. I initially had an A for the first E of ELBERTA peaches. (Good thing there are no such things as MOTORCYCLAS.) I read here that the peach was named in 1875 after Mrs. Elberta Moore Rumph of Fort Valley, Georgia. I agree Elberta was a much more marketable name for the cultivar than Rumph.

Updated Tuesday evening:

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Have You Lost Weight?”

Region capture 10Did you all follow the link at the top of this post to fetch the puzzle from the Google Groups page, or download it via the “Today’s Puzzles” page, or use Crossword Butler to get it? Yes, I know many of us rely on Matt Gaffney’s weekly email to get the puzzle files, but Matt’s on vacation and his laptop has it in for him. Luckily, it is not hard to go fetch the puzzle elsewhere.

Cute theme! Various units of measure for weight are liposuctioned out of some phrases in which those groups of letters can be found. From left to right, we have:

  • 24d. [Basic Cairo bed?] is an EGYPTIAN COT(ton).
  • 18d. [Removal of totally false graffiti?] is taking B.(ounce)S. OFF THE WALLS.
  • 8d. [“Stay away from amateurs!”?] clues GET WITH THE PRO(gram).
  • 11d. [Fascination with a certain URL ending?] is .COM INTEREST. Hang on. I think the theme all made sense to me last night. Oh, yes! COM(pound) INTEREST.

Answers I sure as hell didn’t know:

  • 1d. ZUG [___ Island (industrial area of Detroit)]? Really? Never heard of it. The German equivalent of a train is der Zug.
  • 67a. [“Lost” actor M.C.] GAINEY? Who? Apparently he was one of The Others, and, Wikipedia tells me, “had a role as Tom Friendly on the series Lost, a character who appeared in 20 episodes, as many as some former main cast members.” Not ringing a bell, and I watched Lost!


  • 61a. I know ALTON BROWN. [He hosts “Good Eats”]. He has his charms but there was something I heard about him that I didn’t like. Can’t remember what it was.
  • 7d. A CHIA PET is a [Kitschy growable gift]. My husband and son made Chia slippers out of Cladophora algae at the beach the other day.
  • 22d. [“Let me clean up first…”] clues “I’M A MESS.” I don’t think of that as a thing you say when you’re dirty. It’s when you’re an emotional or psychological mess. Either way, I love the entry.
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15 Responses to Tuesday, 10/12/10

  1. joon says:

    amazing puzzle. wowie zowie. never heard of SEPHORA or AUGIE doggie (it just now occurs to me that bellow’s march would be a suboptimal clue because of the theme), but still, wow. great fill, too. five Js? sure, 3 are thematic, but still, i’ll take it.

  2. ArtLvr says:

    Neat one! But I didn’t feel like going back and finding which were the starred clues, so I came here to see if something obvious had escaped me. AH YES — if I’d just gone back and looked at the first four starred answers, I’d probably have seen the 3-letter months as commonly abbreviated, even though I mostly use my own 2-letter system instead.

    Yes, the FERTILE beneath the OCTOMOM was funny, and the latter having only one vowel three times plus MARSALA the same in symmetry made me follow that idea for a very short while, but that ended with FEBREZE and nothing further in that vein… (Trust you to see the anagram pair GYRATED and TRAGEDY!)

    Really wanted 41A MORONI because Saint in the clue was capitalized, but it’s MORMON! Of course, all members of LDS refer to themselves as Saints. No relation to 31D ST JOE, I suppose, unless the city was named for founder Joseph Smith, Jr.? It’s still unclear how many wives he managed to marry privately, or how he squared Sainthood with his sworn testimony denying polygamy at the same time! STYX and stones…and what’s in a name?

  3. When the wind comes straight off Lake Superior, Duluth has a drastically similar effect, Amy. One July 4 I went innertubing with family down a shallow river on a 97-degree day not far from the Twin Cities. Three hours later, we entered 53-degree Duluth awash in fog at the harbor. Most amazing…

  4. Matt M. says:

    I agree with Joon here — a real wow. Definitely one of my couple favorites of the year.

  5. Howard B says:

    Was a Sephora at a mall where I used to live, so not 100% alien to me, but not somewhere I’d have a frequent shopper card either. Octomom, yiiee. Not a fan of that one in the grid for its tabloidosity, but kind of admire it for the same reason.

    Am I the only one who read LAB RAT as L.A. BRAT for a split second when solving?

  6. Meem says:

    Boffo week so far for NYT. Fascinating grid shape. Clever fill. Howard: I love your L.A. Brat! Needed many crosses for DC Comics as two were unknown to me.

  7. Sara says:

    Wow. Loved it. Couldn’t see the theme myself, though.

  8. Gareth says:

    Am quite astonished by the LAT: didn’t think there would be 4 comics with the same initials that happen to be able to be shoehorned into a symmetrical puzzle! Hadn’t heard of DAVIDCROSS, but he appears notable enough to other people!

  9. joon says:

    DAVID CROSS rang a very faint bell for me, and i figured out why: the second puzzle ever on BEQ’s blog was a david cross quote theme. anyway, it’s a rare treat to get two jaw-dropping puzzles on a tuesday. yay!

  10. Sam Donaldson says:

    I hope this NYT puzzle gets Oryx consideration at year’s end. As others have mentioned, what a smooth puzzle jam-packed with thematic material! Kids these days.

  11. Jenni says:

    I’m the minority voice here, and I’m saying “meh”. Theme was cutesy – honestly, if the theme needs to be explained, it’s not a theme I’m going to like much. I didn’t like “octomom”, a sobriquet I find demeaning and misogynist. The fill was lively, which is what gets it up to a “meh” from a “feh”.

  12. Dan F says:

    David Cross rules. I just bought the complete DVD set of Mr. Show with Bob and David, most of which I’ve never seen.

    M.C. Gainey’s character on Lost was best known for “We’re going to have to take the boy.” And for being randomly revealed as gay a couple seasons later, presumably because they didn’t have any other gay characters…

  13. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Ben, I kinda feel the negatives I heard about Alton were unrelated to anti-fat remarks. Has he been flat-out wrong about other things of note?

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