Thursday, 10/28/10

NYT 4:40
Fireball 4:20
BEQ 4:10
Tausig 5:23 (Jeffrey)
LAT 5:10 (Jeffrey)
CS untimed

David Kahn’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 5The Halloween Spooky Crossword Themes run continues with a riddle: WHAT IS A / GHOST’S FAVORITE / DESSERT? Answer: BOOBERRY PIE AND / I SCREAM. Hmm. Pretty sure Boo Berry is a registered trademark of General Mills. (Cue up the angry letters to Will Shortz: “This is an outrage! First you provide free advertising for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s rallies, and now you’re pushing sugared breakfast cereal! How much are they paying you to lose your soul?”)

I mucked up the lower right corner by positing the existence of TACOMA Indians and a TACOMA River. Whoops—YAKIMA. But three of the letters worked just fine with the crossings! And I had SASSY instead of SAUCY, which also worked with three crossings.

Ten clues:

  • 16a. [“The poison of life,” per Bronte’s Rochester] in Jane Eyre, is REMORSE. Je ne regrette rien.
  • 51a. TRE (“three”) is an [Italian TV channel].
  • 54a. [Sniffler’s supply] is KLEENEX. (“Shortz has been bought out by Kimberly-Clark, too!”)
  • 64a. Baseball, meh. Casey STENGEL is the old [Yankee manager who wore #37]. No one has ever explained to me why they call ’em “managers” rather than “coaches.”
  • 5d. [Math groups] clues COSETS. The feminized version of a coset is Cosette, the young heroine of Les Miserables.
  • 9d. [“That issue is in the past”] is a robotic way of saying I’M OVER IT.
  • 10d. [Capital of the U.S.?] is the almighty DOL., short for dollar. It’s really an ugly abbreviation, isn’t it? I like USD better.
  • 42d. Pretty sure Stephenie (sic) Meyer, author of the Twilight books, is a far more famous MEYER than [Debbie who won three swimming gold medals at the 1968 Olympics]. So is Russ Meyer.
  • 43d. Whoa! I’ve never encountered the word [Picaroon] before. It means BANDIT, rogue, or scoundrel, and the word is archaic.
  • 46d. [Nurses take these] clues PULSES. Dang, I had VITALS next to my TACOMA.

Jascha Smilack’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jeffrey’s review

LAT Oct 28 2010Theme: Phrase the Reverse

Theme answers:

  • 18A. [Libertarian slogan?] – FIRE THE FED instead of “fed the fire.” Feed the fire sounds more normal to me.
  • 24A. [Finish an ascent?] – SCALE THE TIP instead of “tip the scale.”
  • 35A. [Tidy up in a wood shop?] – DUST THE BIT instead of “bit the dust.”
  • 43A. [Floor an oppressive boss?] – DECK THE MAN instead of “man the deck.”
  • 51A. [Value one’s vision?] – PRIZE THE EYE instead of “eye the prize.”
  • 62A. [Send a star pitcher for an MRI?] – TEST THE ACE instead of “ace the test.”

Bonus points for six theme answers.

Other stuff:

  • 14A. [Pararescue gp.] – USAF. IS that like paralegal, meaning almost? They almost rescue. Or are paralegals lawyers who jump out of planes. Insert favourite lawyer joke here.
  • 17A. [Poet who wrote, about children, “And if they are popular / The phone they monopular”] – NASH. Today they textopular, Ogden.
  • 20A. [Rich sponge cake] – GATEAU. Also French for any kind of cake.
  • 46A. [__ scripta: written law] – LEX. Literal translation is bald evil scientist writing.
  • 56A. [Warrior trained by the centaur Chiron] – AJAX. AJAX is the go-to answer when you want a pangram. Mission accomplished.
  • 60A. [It merged with AT&T in 2005] – SBC. I have previously noted that any three letters can be an answer. See?
  • 61A. [Be amazed (at)] – MARVEL. You will recall I’m more DC.
  • 66A. [D.C. underground] – METRO. I know why Montreal’s subway is called the METRO, but how did D.C. get the name?
  • 67A. [“Rigoletto” highlight] – ARIA
  • 1D. [Airway termini] – LUNGS. I was thinking airport but tarmac is too long.
  • 2D. [Stern with a Strad] – ISAAC
  • 3D. [Noodle topper] – PASTA SAUCE. Nice long fill.
  • 19D. [Checker’s dance] – TWIST
  • 30D. [“That’s my take”] – I BELIEVE SO. More nice long fill.
  • 32D. [Charon’s river] – STYX
  • 33D. [__-da: pretentious] – LA-DI. This is missing at least one H.
  • 36D. [Orch. work] – SYM. Did you see the new Motown version of the popular video game? It is called “I Hear A Sym.”
  • 45D. [Edible part of a pecan] – NUTMEAT. One word? Two words? Sounds made up to me.
  • 49D. [Doo-wop syllable] – SHA
  • 54D. [Busybody] – YENTA
  • 55D. [John with Grammys] – ELTON

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Train Connections”—Jeffrey’s reviewTausig Oct 28 10

30D. [“Yo”] – S’UP!

Theme: Railroad (RR) Crossings – Two words, the first ending with R, the second beginning with R

Theme answers:

  • 17A. [They often point toward Mecca] – PRAYER RUGS
  • 21A. [Court cry] – OVERRULED
  • 58A. [When pretty much every fruit and vegetable is available, in modern supermarkets] – YEAR ROUND
  • 64A. [Academic publication process] – PEER REVIEW
  • 3D. [Device mentioned in “Brown-Eyed Girl”] – TRANSISTOR RADIO
  • 11D. [Major physics event] – NUCLEAR REACTION

I like trains, and I like this puzzle.  Two down theme answers each crossing two across theme answers.

Other stuff on the tracks:

  • 14A. [Simba’s mother] – SARABI. I just rewatched The Lion King last week. Still needed all the crossings. Maybe because she doesn’t have a song.
  • 16A. [Hip-hop impresario Knight] – SUGE. Ted and Wayne were already taken, so his (her?) name is SUGE.
  • 24A. [Kentucky college integrated since its founding in 1855] – BEREA. I’m not up on my Kentucky colleges as it appears I need to be.
  • 47A. [Stat for Halladay or Sabathia] – ERA. Equal Rights Amendment. Sabathia prefers the ELA – Equal Lefts Amendment. Is it time yet for my rant about how lefties have an unfair disadvantage at crossword tournaments? We need ELA!
  • 51A. [Some coverage providers] – TROJANS. Tusk!
  • 55A. [Final two words in a Joyce Kilmer ode] – A TREE. Did you put “Music Blest,” the last two words of “To A Blackbird And His Mate Who Died In The Spring”? Me neither.
  • 60A. [How one has to win in ping-pong] – BY TWO. You have to. Don’t cheat. I’m watching you!
  • 66A. [Third-century year of Philip the Arab’s birth] – CCIV. I’m glad this clue was detailed so I wasn’t confused with my old friend, Philip the Jew born in the twentieth century.
  • 70A. [One day ___ time] – AT A. Not to be confused with “One Day At A Time.”
  • 1D. [DS alternatives] – PSPS. It appears to have something to do with computers or videos games or hamburgers or pickles.
  • 4D. [Panettiere of cinema] – HAYDEN. She is currently dating heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko. She was ringside for his knockout victory over Samuel Peter on September 11th, 2010. That same day, my wife watched me not win the Bay Area Crossword tournament. That last part is nowhere to be found on the fancy interwebs. Until now!
  • 7D. [Shade for Prince] – MAUVE. “Mauve Rain” was a huge hit.
  • 8D. [“What Is the What” author Dave] – EGGERS. Who is the who?
  • 9D. [One-named R&B singer with “Feel So High”] – DES’REE. Born, Desirée Annette Weeks, she had a painful accent removal and apostrophe insertion.
  • 10D. [Jacob grasped at his heel during birth] – ESAU. Went downhill from there.
  • 12D. [Some humanoids of myth] – OGRES/18D. [Some actual humanoids] – ROBOTS. Who doesn’t love multiple humanoid clues?
  • 22D. [California glam band with “Round and Round”] – RATT
  • 35D. [“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” composer Jerome] – KERN
  • 40D. [Containing some sex, say] – RATED R. No link, this is a PG-rated blog.
  • 52D. [Second H.S. squad] – JAY VEE. As in JV, Junior Varsity. I never knew that. Now I do. And so do you.
  • 54D. [Robin of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”] – LEACH.
  • 56D. [Cleaning method for which you might buy a pre-packaged kit] – ENEMA

A Robin LEACH/ENEMA combo. Wow. I’d better head out on the Midnight Train after that. Champagne wishes and caviar dreams! Whoo-whoo!!

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 31”

Region capture 6Pretty darn easy for a Fireball, if you ask me. Once you get enough of one 15 to figure it out, the other 15 drops like baggy pants: The STATUE OF LIBERTY appears in PLANET OF THE APES.

Mystery answer: 28a. [1972 film directed by Terence Young] is RED SUN. Never heard of it.

Pop-culture trivia of the day: 9a. [Usher, to Ben Vereen] is his GODSON. My first thought was NEPHEW. My kid’s favorite song is Usher’s “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love.”

Answer least likely to appear in the NYT crossword: PAP SMEAR (36d. [Gynecologist’s test]).

Entry I don’t think I’ve seen before, but I like it: AGENT J, 21d: [Will Smith’s role in “Men in Black”]. Just watched most of Men in Black 2 and it was so cartoonish it was painful to watch. I’m deeply discouraged that MiB 3 is now in the works.

Updated Thursday morning:

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Cee Inside”—Janie’s review

For me, the freshest aspects of this puzzle are the appearance of the grid itself and its lovely, relatively low word count (72) with its 38 blocks. The theme is of the embedded word variety; today, as the title suggests, it’s the spelling of the letter “C, or “CEE.” (The title is also a nice pun on the directive we often encounter on envelopes to “See inside”…) We get four theme phrases (two of them grid-spanners); two of ’em fulfill the assignment with “-ANCE” words, two with “-ICE” words. The cluing is quite straightforward. Here’s what we get:

  • 17A. CHANCE ENCOUNTER [Unplanned meeting]. This is one beautiful phrase. Makes me think of the lyric in “Hello, Young Lovers”: “You fly down the street/On the chance that you’ll meet/And you meet—/Not really by chance.” Aah.
  • 25A. ENTRANCE EXAM [Aspiring collegian’s hurdle].
  • 43A. POLICE ESCORT [Presidential motorcade part]. Hmm. Far better this kind than this kind
  • 55A. OFFICE EXTENSION [Part of a business pone number].

As a direct result of that lower word count we do get a lot of longer fill, which surfaces today as wealth of 7-letter words—10 in fact, accounting for 70 squares or nearly a third of the open grid squares—and more than 50% of the non-theme white squares. That gives us: FEELERS [Trial balloons], DIARIST [Journal keeper], IN TOUCH [Communicating regularly], PRESETS [Fixes beforehand] (this word gets a lot of usage in the theatre world), STOMACH [Gut], DO A DEAL [Negotiate with success] (isn’t this usually make a deal?), ATLASES [Map books], SWEE’ PEA [Infant raised by Popeye], HAUL OFF [Cart away], CANTEEN [Water flask], ARMORED [Like many military vehicles], and JONESES [Family to keep up with].

Felt the [Bass producer?]/ROE combo was perhaps, um, fishing to be clever (while not all fish have names that have other meanings and pronunciations, all fish produce roe, no?). That alliterative [Brassy blast]/BLARE combo is more my speed today.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Whistle Stop”

Region capture 7It was the presence of the word “court” in the puzzle’s subtitle that pointed me toward basketball and the meaning of the theme: The ref blows the whistle to stop play when a basketball player commits an infraction such as CARRYING, CHARGING, TRAVELING, a TECHNICAL, or HACKING. Never heard of HACKING in a hoops context before…and now that I think of it, CARRYING doesn’t ring a bell either. Clever theme for sports fans; “huh?” theme for non-fans.

Grid’s an unusual 17×15 to accommodate TRAVELING WILBURYS (a terrific entry, baseketball aside) and the two 16s.

Highlights include SANGRIA and MUDSLIDE, the non-AEIOU word GLYPH, and a BEAR CAVE. Lowlights include ENSTEEL; plural ESSES, TYS, IRANIS, and NOES; ENROL’s variant-spelling cousin, the one-L APPALS.

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23 Responses to Thursday, 10/28/10

  1. joon says:

    SAssY and tAcoMA here, too. the former came out pretty easily once i worked out PULSES, but i kept staring at RRTP and wondering how that could be part of a ghost’s favorite dessert. DE_A_ING crossing the italian TV channel was mystifying for a while, too. am i the only one who dropped RAI in there with no crossings? all that mucked up what could easily have been my fastest thursday ever, as i spent a good 2 minutes cleaning up my mistakes.

  2. sbmanion says:

    Here’s a site explaining the difference between picaroons, privateers and pirates. I had seen PICAROONS before, but I do not recall when or where.

    I am not a big fan of quip puzzles, but this one was fun. It took me a long time to parse ASH.


  3. DEBATING was my last entry…because in my haste to type BOOBERRY PIE I typed BOOPERRY instead. DEPA_ING made no sense until I realized my error. Typos are annoying.

    Also had SASSY at first.

  4. Matt says:

    Re: Fireball, hard to get a foothold, but once I got the long entries, the rest fell pretty quickly. For the NYT, I had SASSY briefly, but knew YAKIMA. For reference, wrt TACOMA, there’s also TAKOMA-with-a-K in the Washington DC area, potentially tricky since both towns satisfy “Washington urban area.”

  5. steve ortlieb says:

    I usually read your NY Times synopsis every day. I’m just curious as to how you can complete the puzzle, in today’s instance, in 4:40, with so many admitted errors. I am admittedly not as quick as you, but c’mon, no way can you type that fast, AND fix all the errors.

  6. Bruce S. says:

    Anyone know why Villanova is clued as being in the ATEN (Which I always take to mean the Atlantic 10) in the CS puzzle? I see at XWORD info it was also clued this way in an Harvey Estes NYT puzzle in 2005. I think they have been in the Big East since the early 80s. Maybe there is something I am not seeing. Thanks.

  7. janie says:

    in the fb, am not sure why [No matter?] clues DRAMA. is this a typo for [Noh…]?

    also, at 4:40, our intrepid solver/blogger is #9 on the list of fastest solvers today, with the (*legitimate*) #1 some 2 minutes faster — and while both times take my breath away, this does put the feat of typing and fixing so rapidly in context. apparently it can be done!


    p.s. re: villanova and a-ten status. i see what you mean. still, i found this page which (if it doesn’t make the reference completely accurate) does go a way towards explaining how the association may have been made: 2010 a-ten standings. fwiw…

  8. Evad says:

    Cute quip in the NYT today, I had YAKAMA first thinking the dessert was pie and A SCREAM, but the I sounds a lot better.

    And to Steve O., you can see Amy in action in the 2005 ACPT finals shown in the movie Wordplay if you at all doubt her reported times…

  9. Saw the Atlantic 10 football link, which looks like it hasn’t been updated in quite a while, and with good reason: the Colonial Athletic Association is now the football conference for most of those schools (including Villanova, the defending national football champion in Division I-AA/FCS). And Villanova is in the Big East Conference in most other sports…so I think the association between school and conference is out of date.

  10. janie says:

    i’d have to agree. the A-TEN clue could use a dusting off… am thinking that my being sports-challenged and our most talented constructor’s being from the western portion of canada may not have been in this item’s best interest!


  11. Ladel says:

    Had tissues for Kleenex, when did Kleenex stop be a brand name? With that, the whole SE became a nightmare of trying to force things, should have been a flag, never force, put what you know has to be, and build, er, that was a note to self.

  12. kratsman says:

    I thought there was a hidden theme (of some sort) in the NYT because of all the identical 3-letter crossers: in the NW there’s ASH cossing ASH; NE has BAT; SE has AVE; SW has TIN; and center has SER. I tried to come up with a Halloween-appropriate anagram, but to no avail. Just a coincidence, I guess.

  13. zifmia says:


    Personally, I go through dozens of boxes of “Kleenex” in the winter that are usually generic store-brand, and I make copies on a “Xerox” machine that might be made by Canon.

    I’m sure there are a few other brand names that have succeeded so well as to become generic nouns. Coke?

  14. janie says:

    scotch tape…


  15. Howard B says:

    @Steve O.: Amy is indeed that fast :). Here’s the quick & easy recipe:
    – Solve lots and lots of puzzles over time, until many of the most commonly used clues and answer words become second-nature. Eventually, you may not have to consciously puzzle out the most common clues and fill-in answers.
    – Type very quickly, spell well, and also become very comfortable with the puzzle interface.
    – Then, solve puzzles online by essentially reading and parsing each clue as quickly and subconsciously as possible, as if you were fluently translating a language, while entering your answers at the same time, taking minimal time moving from clue to clue. Use crossings to guide your path.
    – Lather, rinse, repeat. (Wait, that’s shampoo. Try this instead:) Add spice and simmer until grid is complete.
    – Receive “Happy Pencil” message if solving in AcrossLite, or confirmation of completion in applet. If wrong, search frantically for typos and errors until complete. (This is usually where I end up stuck :) ).
    – Enjoy a puzzle well-done. Realize that someone solved it a lot faster than you did, no matter what :). Appreciate the theme, grid, etc. but always try to enjoy the experience itself.

  16. Anne E says:

    Regarding the last step: Unless you are, of course, Howard, in which case probably one other person in the world, if that, solved it faster than you did. :-)

  17. Jeffrey says:

    I think the next generation of this site should be a live video feed, and Amy can comment as she solves.

  18. Howard B says:

    On a keyboard, there’s still plenty of people who regularly toast me like a sesame-seed bagel on these things, typos or not. My typing skills are rather awkward.

    So I always try to gauge difficulty against my own sense of the puzzle, and not focus on or compare much against others’ times. That’s where “Enjoy the experience” especially comes into play. Unless online competitiveness is your enjoyment, in which case, hey, go for it but don’t stress yourself :).

  19. sbmanion says:

    Brenth has it exactly right regarding Villanova, but let me add some additional fill as one of my lifelong friends was the fullback for Villanova in the late ’60s when it still was a Division I program.

    There are several schools that play Division I basketball, but do not have the money, facilities, or desire to make the commitment to play Divison I football.

    Villanova dropped football at some time in the late ’70s or earliest ’80s, then got back involved at a lower level and joined the Atlantic 10. The Atlantic 10 folded for football at the end of the 2006 season and all of its teams were incorporated into the Colonial Athletic Association starting with the 2007 season (note that the database clue was from 2005).

    At present, there are negotiations for Villanova to get back into big time football by joining the Big East for that sport as well as for all the other sports it already plays in the Big East.


  20. Ladel says:


    Right you are, many so called brand names have been lost to the public, much to the chagrin of the former owners. It can be be an expensive lession to any company that has suffered such unwanted popularity, “fridge” comes to mind. And, it is the reason the makers of Sanka always follow that name by the word brand, and so it goes.

    I got turned around in the puzzle simply because I still refer to a tissue as a tissue and not a Kleenex, but I’m sure in many parts of the country they are the same.


  21. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Ladel, I have always had great brand loyalty to the Kleenex name. But in recent years, I started buying Puffs instead—and still call them Kleenex.

  22. pannonica says:

    Ladel: m-w tells me that “refrigerator” dates from 1611 (“refrigerate” from 1534), while Frigidaire was founded in 1918. It also indicates that fridge is a shortened form of refrigerator.*

    The concept here is proprietary eponyms, aka genericized trademarks. This wikipedia article lists some surprising names (kerosene, escalator, heroin) but also mentions that Kleenex and Xerox, among others, “have been rescued by aggressive rescue campaigns.”

    *Just why is it that “refrigerator” becomes “fridge” while “vegetable” becomes “veg”? Why not “vedge”? What the frig?

  23. Ladel says:

    Well I just love wordy stuff, thank you Amy and pannonica. After all this discussion a favorite came to mind, I believe in England Hoover has become a verb.

Comments are closed.