Tuesday, 10/19/10

Jonesin’ 4:54
LAT 3:13
NYT 3:06
CS 5:31 (Evad)

Fred Piscop’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 26Today’s theme is a sound-based one: Various “X or Y” phrases turn into “Xer Y.”  “Make or break” becomes a MAKER BREAK. “Hit or miss” is a baseball HITTER MISS. “Boom or bust” is a hypothetical statue that’s a BOOMER BUST. And “(for) love or money” gets you LOVER MONEY.

Crosswordese of the day: 19a: ATTU, the [Westernmost Aleutian]. If you have been doing crosswords for too long, you paused here because you weren’t sure if the island in question was ATKA. Did you know that Attu was Japanese-occupied during WWII? Staten Island and Mackinac Island were, to my knowledge, not occupied by war enemies.

Backup crosswordese: A DIRK is a [Dagger]. Dirks Benedict, Bogarde, and Diggler: call your publicists.

Also perhaps unfamiliar vocab for a newer Tuesday solver: A TOBY is a [Man-shaped mug]. Read about Toby jugs here, and then scroll down to read about puzzle jugs.

Discussion topic: Is three obscure-unless-you’ve-done-a-zillion-crosswords answers too many for a Tuesday puzzle?

Your old advertising reference of the day: GERITOL was called a [“Tired blood” tonic].

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Solve for X”

Region capture 25This theme confused me, but not through any fault of its own. I was just slow to pick up on the spelled-out numbers aspect, and trying to get Daniel Radcliffe to somehow match up with DANIEL BOX. What’s going on here is that the clue tells you what X stands for, and you swap out the number’s name for an X. Like so:

  • 17a. [Crate for actor Radcliffe (if X=1)?] clues DANIEL BOX. That’s Daniel Bo(one), with X taking the place of 1/ONE.
  • 24a. [Marks certain bovine parents (if X=4)?] clues FLAGS OX FATHERS. Flags o(f Our) Fathers.
  • 40a. This one further confused me because the Roman number for 10 is X, and then I was thinking that the 4 in 24a would be IV, and that dog was barking up entirely the wrong tree. [Old record label’s boat to reach isolated areas (if X=10)?] clues STAX ISLAND FERRY, or Sta(ten) Island Ferry. Wasn’t there a record label in the ’70s disco era that had “Island” in its name?
  • 52a. [Lugs two giant neighboring letters without any help (if X=8)?] clues PULLS ONE’S WX, or “pulls one’s w(eight).” Hmm, “WX” is a rather lame chunk of theme answer.
  • 65a. [Spatula hung from the Jaguars’ scoreboard (if X=9)?] clues JAX TURNER, or Ja(nine) Turner of Northern Exposure.

It’s a cool theme, nothing like the usual sorts of letter substitution themes we see. Nice one, Matt!

Anna Gundlach’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 27Is this Anna’s newspaper crossword debut? If not, it’s close to it. If so, congrats!

The first and last answers spell out BOARD GAMES—[where you might find the starts of 20-, 33-, 43- and 59-Across]. The words at the beginnings of those answers can also mean the doohickeys you move around a game board:

  • 20a. [Guy in a spotlight] is MAN OF THE HOUR.
  • 33a. [Feature of much of Bach’s music] is COUNTERPOINT. No idea what that means, musically speaking. I never call little game pieces “counters,” personally.
  • 43a. [Coin for Long John Silver] is a PIECE OF EIGHT. I’m thinking he was never content with just one.
  • 59a. [Symbolic but inconsequential act] is a TOKEN GESTURE.

Five clues:

  • 6a. DAPS means “bumps fists” as well as [Skips, as stones].
  • 29a. [Portfolio asset: Abbr.] is STK., short for “stock” and kinda ugly.
  • 31a. [Antacid named for its elements] is MAALOX. Holy cats! Really? Magnesium, aluminum, oxygen?
  • 21d. NATE [__ Dogg, Snoop’s cousin], no relation to Deputy Dawg.
  • 40d. [Fruit that isn’t pretti?] is a total goofball clue for the UGLI fruit. It’s just crazy enough that it works.

Favorite fill: The DADAIST VIKING ruined the SASHIMI by plunking it in the HOT OIL he was supposed to pour on his enemies, but it was artful.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Soft-Headed”—Evad’s review

Constructor Gail Grabowski gives us four theme phrases whose first word can be preceded by the word “soft”:

  • A “landscaping arrangement” is a ROCK GARDEN. Soft rock sounds so 80s to me, I think of the various “Magic” FM radio stations scattered across the country and played continuously in a dentist’s office near you. Where else you can listen to Michael Bolton and Michael McDonald over to the sound of a drill and the smell of eugenol?
  • “Tub floater” isn’t a RUBBER DUCKY, but instead a SOAP BUBBLE. Softsoap is a brand-name from Colgate-Palmolive.
  • TOUCHSCREEN is an “iPad feature”; I haven’t succumbed to the iPad mania myself, but I do have an iMac and MacBook at home and love them both to pieces.
  • Finally, we have “Handy cleaning solution” for SPOT REMOVER. Is Softsoap a spot remover? I don’t have a big “soft spot” for these kind of themes, but they are the bread-and-butter of the daily early week solve.

I had some trouble running through 9-Down, 34-Across and 37-Down. It started with MANCAVES for MANSIONS, the former being a much more fun answer to “Supersized quarters” methinks. This led to the more crosswordese AONE before MAIN for “Most important.” My final problem was trying to come up with what kind of sky would be the “Feature of a perfect picnic day.” (I had CLEAR before SUNNY. I’d argue the first the more idiomatic.)

So how did this one treat you?

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13 Responses to Tuesday, 10/19/10

  1. 10/19/10 LA Times – 17A. “Almost fail”. good thing it filled in itself because i never heard of it – Have you?

  2. Howard B says:

    Haven’t seen that particular fill myself, but variations on that idea appear occasionally and can really trip you up – in that puzzle, it’s GET A ‘D’ (spacing is critical).

    Variations on this might be clued as multiple choice options: “AORB” (A OR B), “ABORC” (A, B, OR C) etc. Also (AANDW) for a root beer brand… you get the idea. The first time I ran across “2-D” written out as “TWOD” I was pretty much stumped myself.

    Sometimes constructors use the lack of spacing between words, numbers and letters to their devious advantage, for better or worse ;).

  3. anna says:

    Hey that is my debut! I personally kinda liked GET A D but knew it would be toughish. I kinda thought it would get edited out – i had ETSY instead of ETTE in the sw but that might have been a bit too altweekly.

  4. joon says:

    congrats anna. nice tight theme—that’s pretty much the full list of what you might call board game pieces, right? and the MAALOX clue was worth the price of admission.

    totally goofy jonesin’ theme that i pretty much loved, although yeah, WX is clunky and arbitrary. DANO/INGO/ONER/XFEST had me pretty stumped. the only INGO i know is the ostler at lon lon ranch in zelda 64. i also didn’t know JA(X=9) TURNER. so it took a while to piece that corner together.

  5. Gareth says:

    Enjoyed the LAT a bit more than the NYT: Cute theme, quite dense (but I’ve met up with some of Ms. Gundlach’s (who’s above me) puzzles on the forum, and they tend to be quite dense!) Agree a single PIECEOFEIGHT is quite goofy! Lots of nice medium-length fill especially the crossing OX brands (neither of which AFAIK is to be seen here in RSA). Oh, yes congrats on the debut! Sure we’re going to see many more soon!

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Oddly enough, INGO Rademacher plays Jax on General Hospital, so if JAX TURNER made you think of him as well as Janine T., INGO was a flat-out gimme. (This does not apply to Joon in the slightest, it goes without saying.)

  7. Meem says:

    Really liked the LAT. Nice debut, Anna! Loved get a d. And would have liked etsy, too. NYT theme was a groaner, but much of the non-theme fill was fun. Geritol, fibber, caromed. Thought Washington Post was a good, solid Tuesday puzzle. Again liked non-theme fill. Cross tie, Ethernet, how much. Hope Wednesday keeps the fun going.

  8. wobbith says:

    Amy, perhaps you’re thinking of Island Records. They’re pretty big and still around. In the 70’s they had Traffic, Bob Marley & The Wailers and Jimmy Cliff, to name just a few.

  9. anna says:

    I wish i could take credit for the CATTLE and MAALOX clues – those were all rich! I was kinda pleased with my UGLI clue tho. I’m glad others appreciated it

  10. *David* says:

    I liked the quirk with the Jonesin’ and think there is a lot of potential for that concept, it’s like a hybrid rebus. I had the same reaction to the puzzle as Joon, I flew through it until I hit the SE with INGO (sorry no soaps in my life) and JANINE TURNER making me finesse my way to a finish.

  11. Scott says:

    I’m guessing Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t have a publicist. He was NBA MVP (for the Dallas Mavericks) about four years ago, and still no one knows who he is. Oh well, at least the Texas Rangers are making it into the NYT this week.

  12. Howard B says:

    Neat stuff, Anna, and congrats! (I was generalizing about tricky letter combos in fill that can trip up solvers unfamiliar with those patterns earlier, not commenting on your puzzle). And a board game theme gets bonus points, kind of a “slide forward” on the Sorry board. Which theme markers are in a Sorry game set, anyway?

  13. Matt J. says:

    @Howard B: I have used ABCORD once in an old “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” reference, specificially “Ask the Audience”. (“On your keypads, using A B C or D, please vote now.”) I like it since it looks like Ab Cord, some sort of infomercial ab exerciser.

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