Tuesday, 11/23/10

NYT 3:39
Jonesin’ 3:25
LAT 3:46 (Jeffrey)
CS 5:47 (Evad)

Richard Chisholm’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 14At last! A poker theme that doesn’t demand specialized knowledge of the lingo. Making sense of the clues and combining them with rudimentary card-playing knowledge is plenty. Here’s the theme:

  • 65a. POKER HAND is [What the answer to each starred clue is].
  • 17a. In theater circles, [What “S.R.O.” indicates] is a FULL HOUSE, standing room only.
  • 27a. The Magi are THREE KINGS. Did I know that having three kings was a “thing” in poker? I did not. Didn’t matter, luckily.
  • 50a. ROYAL FLUSH is archly clued as [Sound from a palace bathroom?].
  • 10d. The FOUR ACES are a ’50s pop group as well as a poker hand.
  • 40a. TWO PAIRS get a clunky clue, [Makeup of a double date]. Hmm, how about [Eyes and ears?] as a clue?

I usually grumble at poker content in crosswords because there’s all sorts of arcane lingo that poker nuts know but that other folks do not. This theme worked for me, though. It’s cute to have “IT’S A DEAL” (56a: [“Agreed!”]) parked in the grid too, although that sort of “deal” isn’t the one involving playing cards.

Cost myself 20 seconds with a typo. Yes, I can spell BARD. No, it’s not BATD.

Not crazy about 18d: “HOW ELSE?” That one feels contrived.

I don’t see much else to remark on. Hey! That’s a clear sign of a Tuesday puzzle.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Crunchy on the Outside”

Region capture 13You like tempura? You like food dipped in batter and deep-fried? Of course you do. This theme honors that love with a BATTER-DIPPED theme—four answers can be said to be batter-dipped in that the letters of the word batter envelop the rest of a word or phrase:

  • 19a. [Pattern studied by Dexter Morgan] is BLOOD SPATTER. That’s the Dexter of Dexter. I don’t have Showtime and have never seen the show.
  • 27a. How do you know if the BATH WATER is too hot? [It’s tested with a toe].
  • 33a. [Air transport for Bruce Wayne’s alter ego] is the BATCOPTER. Didn’t know there was such a thing—although now that I think of it, my kid has a Lego Batcopter so never mind.
  • 43a. BIOMATTER is [All organisms in one area, collectively].
  • 51a. BATTER-DIPPED is clued as [Like fish for fish & chips — or this puzzle’s four theme entries].

What else is in this puzzle? Let’s take a look:

  • 9a. To LASH something is to [Whip it, whip it real good]. Go forward. Move ahead.
  • 17a. An EPIPHANY is a [“Light bulb” moment]. I like the clue.
  • 1d. [Female NASCAR racer/eco-activist ___ Munter] is named LEILANI. Never heard of her.
  • 5d. [Backs, in anatomical terms] are DORSA.
  • 8d. [The good guys wear them in westerns] clues WHITE HATS.
  • 18d. PEE WEE [Herman with a Broadway show] started the show in L.A. He had better bring the show to Chicago!
  • 20d. PUBIC [___ bone (pelvis component)]? Wow, how genteel! Matt totally could’ve gone with the PUBIC hair clue.
  • 31d. [Black Hills Spruce, e.g.] is a STATE TREE. The Black Hills are in South Dakota, but I wasn’t aware they had enough trees there to anoint one as the state tree.
  • 42d. [Dealmakers?] are playing CARDS.

Dan Naddor’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review

LAT Nov 23 2010Theme: Quebec, Quebec

Theme answers:

  • 17A. [Outside-the-box method] – UNIQUE TECHNIQUE. Which describes Dan Naddor’s puzzle making skills.
  • 37A. [Exclusive group seeking old collectibles] – ANTIQUE CLIQUE
  • 59A. [Indirect evaluation] – OBLIQUE CRITIQUE. Which may describe my puzzle reviewing style.

One-line review for those in a hurry: You gotta love a puzzle with SQUISHING in it.

Other stuff:

  • 5A. [Tony winner Judith] – IVEY. She won Best Featured Actress in a Play for Steaming in 1983 and Hurlyburly in  1985. I can’t hum any songs from either one.
  • 14A. [Any of five O-ending brothers] – MARX. Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Gummo and Jeffreyo.
  • 20A. [In inventory] – ON HAND. Yay, accounting references.
  • 23A. [Ones who take things the wrong way?] – THIEVES. Ah, those sneaky clues.
  • 32A. [Water frozen in mid-drip] – ICICLE. I hate being frozen in mid-drip.
  • 40A. [Cooked in 35-Down] – FRIED/2D. [With 35-Down, healthful cooking liquid] – CANOLA/35D. [See 2-Down] – OIL. Wow, 35-Down is working hard in this one.
  • 43A. [“Whirled peas” is one] – PUN. World peace, get it?
  • 48A. [Capone catchers, familiarly] – THE FEDS. Yay for the taxmen!
  • 53A. [Opt for a career without the band] – GO SOLO.
  • 55A. [Euro predecessor, in Portugal] – ESCUDO. You’re escuded.
  • 63A. [Agreement before marriage] – PRENUPTIAL. In case of disagreement after marriage.
  • 4D. [Especially elegant] – EXQUISITE. An EXQUISITE word.
  • 9D. [One-named New Age keyboardist] – YANNI. Didn’t really need “one-named.”
  • 12D. [Nicht alt] – NEU. Some foreign language stuff, I’m thinking.
  • 13D. [Sault __ Marie] – STE. The 46th largest metropolitan area in Canada and the 6th largest of those I’ve never been to.
  • 16D. [1979 Iranian exile] – SHAH. Didn’t really need 1979.
  • 22D. [“ER” actor La Salle] – ERIQ. Didn’t really need “ER”.
  • 24D. [Calf meat, in Calais] – VEAU or in Quebec, Quebec. (7th largest; I was there in September).
  • 30D. [__ of faith] – A LEAP
  • 36D. [Making a walking-in-mud sound] – SQUISHING. Yay, SQUISHING!
  • 39D. [Suffix with weak] – LING. Boo, LING!
  • 45D. [Rotation-causing force] – TORQUE. If you miscook the entree at Thanskgiving you may have a Terrible Turkey TORQUE.
  • 50D. [Roman ending] – ESQUE. Actually an ending for anything you want. This post is very Jeffreyesque today.
  • 51D. [60-Down spec] – D-CUP/60D. [Victoria’s Secret staple] – BRA. I had C-CUP initially. Just sayin’.
  • 61D. [“__ Misérables”] – LES

Updated Tuesday morning:

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

Not sure how many themed CS/WaPo puzzles I’ve blogged by now, but I feared this would be the first in which I couldn’t suss out the theme. Luckily, in the Nick of Time, light dawned on marblehead, and it came to me. Each of the three words in the theme phrases can follow the word HOT, hence the title “Hot, Hot, Hot!”:

  • HOTLINE, HOTPANTS and HOT POCKET lead us to “Rake in the money?” This one works pretty well with the clue.
  • HOT COMB, HOTDOG and HOTFOOT lead us to “Finish grooming Fido?”
    What is a hot comb? Aren’t dog’s feet generally referred to as paws? I rate this one not-so-hot.
  • HOTPACK, HOTCAKE and HOTBOX is “a bakery worker’s chore.” Hotcakes, sure, but what’s a hotbox? (Googling it brings up an online porn site as the first hit, which I doubt was our constructor’s intention.) And are hotpacks what people put on sore muscles or in their ski mittens?
  • The final entry is HOTSPOT, HOT SPRING and HOT WATER, or “Catch sight of an oasis?” My favorite of the four; I recognize all the base hot phrases and the clue works well.

M*A*S*H fans are likely wondering what happen to HOT LIPS? But I do give the constructor props for an interesting theme that wasn’t too obvious at first. MAD DASH (“Scramble”) doesn’t show up as a term in my dictionary; I’ve heard of SLAPDASH, but that has a sense of being done quickly or in a shoddy manner, which I don’t get from “scramble.” A couple of French 101 phrases: the children’s song FRERE Jacques and the “dance for two” PAS DE deux. Even the pear variety of ANJOU reminds me of the French province on the Loire River where I biked as a recent college grad out to see the world.

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8 Responses to Tuesday, 11/23/10

  1. joon says:

    theme cluing is oddly mixed—one punny, one proper, two arbitrary number+noun combos, and one in-the-language phrase. (THREE KINGS could have been moved from group 3 to group 2 by cluing it as that awful movie.) that’s not intrinsically a bad thing, but it feels a little inconsistent to me. if you can’t come up with a straight clue for ROYAL FLUSH that isn’t poker-oriented, maybe it doesn’t belong in this theme? either that, or you could try to pun them all, but then they all have to be in-the-language phrases.

    with AWAY in the grid, perhaps a different carol could have been chosen for the NOEL clue. maybe even “the first ___” (although the brits like to spell it “nowell”). does anybody regularly use this to mean a generic christmas carol outside of crosswords?

    lovely EUROS clue!

  2. PocketRebel says:

    IMO, “Smeary” is at least as bad as “How else?” I was not a fan of Tuesday’s NYT. A couple decent clues, but some of it actually made me frown.

  3. Jeffrey says:

    This is your 61st puzzle, Dave.

  4. Evad says:

    Cool, my contract with Amy stipulates that once I blog over 60 puzzles, I get an extra bonus of 5% of my base pay! Woohoo…just in time to spend it for the holidays!

  5. Ladel says:

    I’ve watched so much televised poker I should not have been allowed to fill this one. But then I was reminded about the poker players’ philosophy of winning and quitting, e.i., the latter is an option only when there is no more of the former to do.


  6. Neville says:

    Could not figure out the CS theme – Thanks for the help, Evad! The wording of the theme answers made no sense to me, and I was stuck with 3 or 4 unknowns (SONTAG? DOONE? Okay, I should’ve known DOONE). Glad you figured out Hot Hot Hot!

  7. Art Shapiro says:

    With respect to the CS today: I think a HOTBOX is a sun-baked incarceration structure. If you read the comic strip “Crock”, it’s a frequent part of the strip where poor souls do twenty years for minimal transgressions.

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I always used “hotbox” to describe my grandma’s apartment. She kept it at about 80° year round.

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