Friday, 10/22/10

NYT 6:31
LAT 3:38
CHE 3:25
CS untimed
WSJ 7:47

Scott Atkinson’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 7Dang! Interesting and unusual words, tough clues for little words…and it’s not a Saturday puzzle, just a Friday one? There were so many great answers to love in this grid:

  • 1a. “I’M KIDDING” is one meaning of a wink. I like the sly insidery wink better. The next answer is I QUIT—too bad their order isn’t reversed, because telling your boss “I quit! No, wait, I’m kidding” would be hilarious.
  • 15a. I’ve always liked the word SALTPETER. Derives from the Latin for “salt of rock.” Is the opposite pepperpaul?
  • 29a. How come there’s no “light-set” that’s the opposite of HEAVY-SET? I do like to use a different light/heavy opposite, personally: “He’s a little heavy in his loafers,  if you know what I mean.”
  • 34a. Lots of names in the puzzle, but J.K. ROWLING is the best of the batch. Not the first time her name’s been in a crossword, but starting from the back end and having OUT for GUT ([Ready to be totally remodeled] uses “ready” as a verb, not an adjective—oof!) had me thinking of ––LINO people. [Creator of the currency system consisting of galleons, sickles and knuts] would be more obvious to someone who’s read the Harry Potter books rather than just seeing the movies.
  • 41a. [Hot partner?] is…HUMID! Love the surprise of the answer; hate that weather.
  • 58a. ROXY MUSIC, best known to MTV watchers of the ’80s as the [“Avalon” band], with the best-known song off that album being “More Than This.”
  • 3d. MANUMIT, derived from the Latin for “send forth from the hand” (as in manual + emit), means to free, to release, to [Let go]. The same clue pulls double duty at 12d, UNLEASH.
  • 3d. KLATSCH! Is it possible to have a Diet Coke klatsch, or is the coffee klatsch the only beverage/klatsch combo available?
  • 9d. GRAD could be clued lots of ways. [Former Lenin adherent?] is a bright clue. (As in Leningrad, and as in all the college grads who were Leninists early in their education.)
  • 11d. Who doesn’t love the word QUIRKY?
  • 24d. SINKS IN is a good two-word phrase, especially if you parse the word division wrong and think of SINK SIN. Not rinsing your toothpaste spit out of the sink, that’s a real sink sin. (24a is a SIN of the non-sink variety.)
  • 26d. This clue tells me too much without telling me anything. I got IVANHOE off the initial I and the “literary classic” part of the clue. [Literary classic featuring the jester Wamba]? Really? Wamba? I have never seen that name before (and obviously have never read Ivanhoe).
  • 32d. Tough clue: To [Stick] your horn into a bullfighter is to GORE him. (He was asking for it.)
  • 35d. [Equipment near a horse], as in the men’s gymnastics equipment, is the RINGS.
  • 38d. I am resolutely urban but can appreciate the word EXURBAN, or [Almost in the sticks].
  • 39d. PALAZZI is the plural of palazzo. What, Scott Atkinson and Will Shortz preferred PALAZZI/SNITS to PALAZZO/SNOTS?

So, I wonder if a Saturdayesque Friday puzzle means we have a truly wicked crossword in store for us tomorrow, or if we’ll just be saying “Will got his days mixed up this weekend.” I’d kinda like a wicked challenge!

Updated Friday morning:

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Busters Last Stand”—Janie’s review

Full disclosure: Ray got me with this one. Focused on the third theme entry, I was somewhere in the land of overthink and didn’t see what was right in front of my eyes. The “last” word of all of the theme entries can be followed by the word “busters.” D’oh… (Thank you, Eli…) I was complicating the process in ways not worth going into. What is worth going into is the snappy theme fill and the great phrases “busters” is a part of. And they’d be:

  • 18A. [Start of a lad’s first beard] PEACH FUZZfuzz busters. The former looks something like this (that’s young Daniel Radcliffe); the latter (we’re talkin’ radar detectors here), more like this.
  • 27A. [St. Louis Cardinals nickname in 1934] THE GAS HOUSE GANGgangbusters. From Cardinal Nation Globe, here’s a neat backgrounder on how the Cards came by this name. Seems that New York sportswriters are the ones to blame/thank. The Cards have a grand team history—and when they’re hot, they roll through their division like gangbusters!
  • 44A. [Utterly surrenders] GIVES UP THE GHOST → (“Who ya gonna call?!”) Ghost Busters. This phrase, which can also mean “dies,” has it roots (as I just learned…) in The New Testament. This link will give you not only chapter and verse, but some useful explication as well. (For some reason, this was the only phrase in which I initially saw a connection to the title—which led me to cling to the mistaken idea that Ghost Busters was the unifying gimmick. Even though I could find no way to make the other theme fill work…)
  • 58. [Imaginary tale of modern life] URBAN MYTHmyth busters. Snopes has gottem both!

In addition to this great theme fill, Ray has loaded the puzzle with great non-theme fill, like SOUL MATE, LOG CABIN and SANDBARS; UNCOUTH and CASABAS. His triple 6-columns NW and SE yield PARIAH [Persona non grata in society] and STODGE [Stuff with food] among others; and other lively sixes include IMPISH and HUSHED and SAINTS.

“The Mouse” gets a shout-out by way of [Disney movie of 1942] BAMBI and 1937’s Snow White, with the nicely misdirecting [Grumpy colleague] cluing DOC. (That [Nice companion] on the other hand is the French AMI.)

Because these phrases are so colorful, I also enjoyed fitb’s [Spitting] IMAGE and [Dressed to the] NINES. Patricia T. O’Connor addresses the origins of the former (see #27); and scroll down to “Among the Mullet-Americans” for a little discourse by “The Word Detective” on the latter.

Thanks, Ray, for a puzzle with a lotta [Zing] ÉLAN!

Clive Probert’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 8We’ve got an amusing theme with artist puns:

  • 20a. [Baroque painter’s study of a snack?] is a RUBENS SANDWICH (Reuben sandwich).
  • 36a. [Surrealist’s portrait of a president?] is DALI MADISON (Dolly Madison), which would be cool to see. I’d like to see a Dali Obama.
  • 42a. [Synthetist’s picture of a French author?] is GAUGUIN ZOLA (Gorgonzola). I gotta tell you, the word “synthetist” was not helping me out here.
  • 57a. [Impressionist’s study of a washerwoman?] is a MONET LAUNDERER (money launderer).

Pun themes can hit the sweet spot or they can thud. This one worked for me. It might’ve been neat to have all four be portraits, but RUBENS’ hypothetical SANDWICH painting at long last explains how the Rubenesque developed their avoirdupois.

The artistic theme is accompanied by an art word: LIMNING is 45d: [Representing in drawing].

In the fill, I liked the space pair:

  • 10d. [First first name in space] is Russian cosmonaut YURI Gagarin.
  • 59d. [First first name on the moon] is American astronaut NEIL Armstrong.

Three more clues:

  • 5d. [Berlin was its last capital] clues old PRUSSIA.
  • 9d. [Freshwater crustacean] clues the CRAWDAD, crawfish, or (the term I knew as a kid) crayfish.
  • 27d. If you can’t spell LISZT, the [Symphonic poem pioneer], and you didn’t know ZOLA was a French author, that Z might’ve been tough to fill in.

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Gross Receipts” (pen name Alice Long)

Region capture 9Each theme entry is made by putting the ICK into familiar phrases. Ellen Ripstein! She’s the foremost modern practitioner of “ick,” to my knowledge. (As in “Ick, smoking!”) The theme entries include a LICKED ZEPPELIN, PICKUP TENTS, SAINT PICKETER, PEACHICK PITS, BICKERING SEA, PITCH FOR KICKS, WICKET PAINT, and ROLLICKING PINS. I liked the PICKUP TENTS and WICKET PAINT best.

Eight more clues:

  • 19a. I DO, I DO is the [Musical based on the play “The Fourposter”].
  • 27a. [Dr. Zaius, for one] is an APE in Planet of the Apes.
  • 48a. [Tom Canty, in a Twain tale], The Prince and the Pauper, is the PAUPER.
  • 87a. CARA [“___ Mia” (Jay and the Americans hit)]? Who? Them. That hit was in 1965, before I was born, and turned out not to be the sort of song that continued to get radio play in the ’70s and beyond. I’m counting on my niece Cara to become a notable adult because the CARA clues in crosswords are crying out for a famous person named Cara.
  • 123a. [Some Okefenokee fauna] clues TOADS. I think of alligators and egrets more than TOADS. According to this roundup of Okefenokee wildlife, you’re not going there for the toads, but presumably some live there with the gators, turtles, ospreys, frogs, woodpeckers, and black bears.
  • 9d. [Coach involved in training] isn’t about sports teams, it’s about choo-choo trains: a RAIL CAR is the answer.
  • 13d. [Borsa Italiana setting] is MILANO, or Milan. And Turin is known as TORINO (53d. [Where Apolo Ohno won his second Olympic gold medal]) to the Italians.

Jim Holland’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Child Hoods”

Region capture 10Numerous (well, at least four) hardened criminal types have taken juvenile monikers:

  • 20a. [1930s bank robber pursued by the FBI’s Melvin Purvis] is PRETTY BOY FLOYD. If the movie Public Enemies is accurate, Floyd was chased down and shot by Purvis in an orchard. Did you see that movie? I liked the local aspect—John Dillinger hung out on the North Side of Chicago. He had an apartment about three blocks from me (not in the movie). One address mentioned in the movie is five blocks from me. And I drove past three different filming locations around town; the restaurant/nightclub where he met Billie is portrayed by the Aragon Ballroom, and I saw scads of extras in period attire.
  • 32a. [Outlaw killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881] is BILLY THE KID.
  • 40a. [Gambino family successor to the “Teflon Don”] is JUNIOR GOTTI. I have no idea if he’s involved in organized crime…apparently yes.
  • 51a. [He was named Public Enemy No. 1 following the death of John Dillinger] clues BABY FACE NELSON. (Not to be confused with Babyface, the “American R&B and pop singer, songwriter, guitarist, keyboardist, record producer, film producer, and entrepreneur.”) I have only heard of a few of the current FBI Ten Most Wanted.

Moving along to the fill:

  • 38d. [Military concept typified by Sherman’s March] is TOTAL WAR. Gettable with some crossings, but not a term I’m familiar with.
  • 40d. Favorite answer: To JURY-RIG is to [Patch in a pinch].
  • The bottom of the puzzle looks mighty Floridian. In addition to OCALA and a GATOR, TAMPS and ORANG are so close to TAMPA and a Florida ORANGE.
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22 Responses to Friday, 10/22/10

  1. Each section had an answer I entered quickly (SALTPETER, JK ROWLING, ROXY MUSIC, SILVA and DUNNE, and EXURBAN) that made the sections fall roughly evenly. And I learned MANUMIT for keeps tonight…I’d seen it in puzzles before but not remembered its meaning. Mr. Atkinson deserves some Karen Tracey-esque props for Scrabbly fill on this one!

    I wonder if I can re-finance my mortgage through Gringotts… :-)

  2. joon says:

    oh funny. i had PALAZZO/SNOTS and didn’t think too much of it, except “gee, SNOTS is surprising.” are there lots of palaces in venice?

    i agree, though. tough saturday puzzle.

  3. Howard B says:

    Saturday here too. Good challenge. Still can’t quite parse the GUT clue, even post-explanation. Anyone have a phrase-replacement usage to help? Also was mowed down in the DECOCTS / SAC area. ooh, that’s some mean cluing! Well-done.

  4. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Howard: “We’re gonna gut the building.” “We’re gonna ready/prepare the building for a complete remodel.” Close enough? A gut rehab involves stripping out a building’s innards (pipes, wiring, etc.) and putting all-new everything.

  5. Michael F says:

    Howard B: Think of GUT as a verb, to destroy or tear apart. As in “we gutted our old bathroom and replaced it with a brand new one.” Here’s a link I found:

  6. janie says:

    oh, yes — lotso PALAZZI along the grand canal. feast yer eyes!

    really enjoyed this solve — wrong turns included. my initial thought for [hot partner?]? HEAVY… for [“sorry, too busy!]? first NOT NOW, then NOT YET…

    a great start to the weekend puzzlin’. thx scott ‘n’ will!


  7. ePeterso2 says:

    How tough can this puzzle be if I can finish this puzzle with only the OMS/MANUMIT crossing wrong? Thoroughly enjoyed this one.

  8. Plot says:

    I don’t know if anyone else does this, but when speedsolving, I tend to gloss over many of the words in the clues; usually I can pick out the one or two essential words that provide the answer so I save time by skipping the rest. Today, that strategy went horribly awry. I read the clue for 43D as ‘1970s ____ anthem’. I had the last two letters already filled in from crosses. If I had read that middle word, I probably would have written IMAGINE. Instead, I confidently entered I ME MINE. Once I got not one, not two, but three more crossings to fit, there was no way I was ever going to concede that it was an error. I was thus able to convince myself that David HUME dabbled in French poetry, DETECTS is an appropriate synonym for concentrates, and that SET somehow fit the clue for 50A.

    The moral of the story: Watch out for speed traps, especially on a weekend puzzle. It’s easy if you try.

  9. Don Byas says:

    Had MMR instead of DPT and SPEC for DUTY so the NW was a mess for a while. Ended up with a medium Saturdayish time.
    very cool puzzle.
    In Hawthorne’s short story ETHAN Brand went in search of the “unpardonable SIN”. He has two SINs in sight here.

  10. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Thanks, Jeffrey and wobbith


  11. Howard B says:

    I see the ‘gut’ clue now, thanks Amy and Michael. It just didn’t ring a bell for me at the time.

    Plot: Here’s the weird thing. I parsed all of the clues you described *correctly*, and entered exactly all of the answers you described! In my case, this was due to complete ignorance of all of the clues except for the Beatles/Lennon tunes (who knew they were so closely patterened?). I forced myself into “I Me Mine” even knowing it was wrong, because the other incorrect words forced that pattern. DECOCTS was brutal since I know it only from puzzles, so the clue did not help much. The correct answer did not occur to me until I finally unravelled the rest of that incorrect mess a couple of minutes later.
    – I had a similar clue misread experience in a tournament, where I already had BE – – filled in, and partially read a clue similar to “Second letter… alphabet”, and confidently wrote in BETA. Only to find out afterwards that, in fact, they wanted the Hebrew letter BETH. This led to a mini-mistake spiral which led to a couple of other perfectly wrong squares.
    Moral: Reading is fundamental. (It isn’t hard to do). :)

  12. Jeffrey says:

    I guess Irene CARA won’t live forever after all. Remember her name?

  13. Amy Reynaldo says:

    If Irene Cara were famous for more than one movie and two songs (…and an Oscar), she’d be a better CARA clue. I know her, but if you missed Fame in ’80 and the Flashdance theme in ’83 (or weren’t born yet), you mightn’t know the name.

  14. Meem says:

    The northwest killed me. Manumit is a word new to me and drew a blank on Anastasia, even when I had “tasia” in place. Loved the clues for heavy set and free agent. On the other hand, caught the LAT gig right away and finished quickly. Also liked Busters Last Stand. Needed to unravel a couple of errors in WSJ: eat up before lap up; icon before idol. Thought the theme was amusing. Peachick pits and wicket paint were favorites. Wonder what Saturday will bring.

  15. Sparky says:

    Thanks for the clarification on RINGS. Gym horse never entered my mind. This puzzle gave me a good run for the money and joy that I did almost finish. Missed the M in OMS/MAUMIT cross till I read solution. Happy weekend.

  16. sbmanion says:

    I knew MANUMIT in the form of MANUMISSION. I first came across it in law school in Trusts and Estates. I forget the legal issue, but slaveowners’ wills sometimes provided for the manumission of slaves.

    The crossing that got me was SAC/DECOCTS. The “C” in SAC was the only letter that made sense, but I found that crossing to be unsatisfying and left it blank.

    W was easy for me; E, especially the SE was tough.


  17. animalheart says:

    Superb NYT today. SAC/DECOCTS was my last fill. For a time, I had the 1970s peace anthem as I ME MINE. Only a two-letter difference, after all…

  18. John Haber says:

    I found it really hard, too. For a time, I also had “I Me Mine,” as well as “dhow” instead of DORY, “not now” instead of NO TIME, and OTS for HRS, and misremembed the children’s book author as Rowlins. I definitely didn’t know DECOCTS and stared for a long while at GDS before I saw why it was an answer.

    But getting anywhere in the NW was the hardest for me once other things were cleaned up. I’d the tail ends from DEARIE, NEIN, and -GRAD, and finally SALTPETER hit me and I was off.

    I don’t actually understand IT’S ON. What sense of “row”?

  19. Scott A. says:

    I wanted to use PALAZZO, and sent it in that way, with the cover letter saying “If SNOTS is unacceptable, SNITS works” There have been some rather unpleasant excretions on the puzzle pages of various media outlets lately, but even clued as “brat” or something, snot is off limits just about everywhere.

  20. Evad says:

    I’m thinking row in terms of a fight…when you jump into a fight with someone you might say “It’s on!”

  21. John Haber says:

    Thanks. I guess I’m not used to that sense of “It’s on.”

  22. Evad says:

    Guess this dvd isn’t in your video library then?

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