Sharon Delorme’s New York Times crossword
This is pretty close to a perfect Monday/Tuesday crossword. The theme is fresh and lively, with an inherent surprise factor, and there’s a ton of sparkling fill. 59a: COCKTAILS, or [What 17-, 24-, 34- and 51-Across are], tie everything together:
- 17a. RUSTY NAIL is not just inapt hardware—it’s also a cocktail with, I think, Drambuie.
- 24a. Then SCREWDRIVER comes along and might trick the solver into thinking the whole theme would relate to the toolbox, but it’s also an OJ/vodka drink.
- 34a. SHIRLEY TEMPLE is on TV commercials these days—you can buy DVD sets of her old movies. So my kid recognizes her! This answer is also the name of a kiddie cocktail with, I dunno, clear sodapop, a maraschino cherry, and who knows what else.
- 51a. A GRASSHOPPER has creme de menthe but is clued as a [Term of endearment for the Karate Kid]. Really? I don’t remember that. I thought it was just a David Carradine/Kung Fu reference.
Just for the heck of it, COCKTAILS crosses 38d: LIBATIONS. The northwest and southeast corners have stacks of great 7s and 8s—MISHMASH, CRUSADES, and IMPASSE are particularly nice—while the other two corners have some 5×6 action with terrific 8-letter answers passing through. MAJOR TOM and a RAP SHEET? Good stuff. Also catching my eye: GEEZER, MENSCH, AGHAST, CUATRO, and POOCH.
I could do without IRANI, NOL, ESSO, and the AAR, but hey, none of those will slow down the seasoned solver. The newbie solver will need to learn these repeaters because they will certainly crop up again in other crosswords.
Don Gagliardo’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jeffrey’s review
Theme: Quadruplllle Tripllle Llletter Score.
Um, so you take a two-word phrase with 2 L’s at the end of the first word and a second word starting with L so you have three consecutive L’s, and then you put another L beside one end of the three L’s so that you have an L-shaped group of L’s. Then you put four L-shaped groups of black squares in the middle of the grid. Throw in two describing entries and you have a cool, if difficult to explain, theme.
Theme answers (sort of):
- 18A. [Passé keyboard key] – SCROLL LOCK/21A. [Extremely, in Essex] – BEASTLY/9D. [Cowardly] – YELLOW
- 3D. [Video game difficulty setting] – SKILL LEVEL/23A. [Follower of Mary] – LAMB/27A. [Was beaten by] – FELL TO
- 39A. [Angle irons graphically represented by four sets of black squares in this grid, and by letter formations starting in the four longest answers] – L-BARS
- 64D. [Ernie of the PGA, to whom this puzzle could be dedicated] – ELS
- 62A. [“I’m afraid this will sound funny”] – YOU’LL LAUGH/47D. [Have as a customer] – SELL TO/55A. [Crete-born “View of Toledo” painter] – EL GRECO
- 31D. [Names on it are off-limits to telemarketers] – NO CALL LIST/48A. [Like some quaint lamps] – OIL LIT/51A. [German GM subsidiary] – OPEL
One-line review for those in a hurry: One “L” of a puzzle.
- 1A. [17-Across in the neck] – PEST/17A. – PAIN. It was a PAIN in the neck describing the theme.
- 5A. [Adventurous] – RISKY/10A. [Domesticated] – TAME – Whoa. Quick reversal there.
- 29A. [Midday energizer] – POWER NAP. I need one after describing the theme. I’llll meet you back here at the downs.
- 1D. [Lounging jacket wearer’s smoke, maybe] – PIPE. Did anyone other than Hugh Hefner dress like that?
- 21D. [NYC subway line named for two boroughs] – BMT. Queens and Yonkers.
- 52D. [Makeup accentuates them] – EYES
- 53D. [Recline lazily] – LOLLLLLLLLLLLLater!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “The Worst of 2010”
You know what sucked about last year? No, I mean besides the unemployment figures, the Haiti earthquake, and all sorts of other badness? These things:
- 17a. A MILEY CYRUS video. I haven’t seen it, but can I pass judgment on it anyway?
- 21a. [One way to constantly check one of the worst news stories of 2010] was via the SPILLCAM in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s not that the reporting was bad (…though it could have been more skeptical of ridiculously downplayed numbers given early on) or that the word SPILLCAM was a bad coinage, but the spill itself really blew.
- 27a. Did anyone watch even a half an episode of BLEEP MY DAD SAYS? I sure didn’t.
- 33a. FURRY VENGEANCE! My son insisted on watching this movie on TV, despite my warnings that the critics said it was awful. It was indeed pretty terrible, but it had several humorous spots. I would describe them but I have utterly forgotten what they might have been.
- 45a. JEGGINGS are the bastard love-child of jeans and stretchy leggings. The trompe l’oeil look of jeans mated with the ridiculousness of leggings worn as pants. Out of the house. As if they’re a respectable sartorial choice for grown-ups. Jeggings are also called “pajama jeans” on late-night TV commercials.
- 52a. The KFC DOUBLE DOWN sandwich, no bread, just fried chicken breasts in place of a bun. You can buy a bucket of KFC original recipe, rip off the skin, stick a pile of it between two buns, and have yourself a marginally better excuse for a sandwich.
Thanks for the memories, Matt.
I had no idea there was an [Afternoon children’s programming block that moved to The CW] called KIDS WB. Nor do I ever recall the upside-down-M-is-W Nintendo character WARIO, whom I am guessing is Mario’s nemesis. I had an M instead of W despite Mario not being a villain.
- Fill like ON ALL FOURS, SIAMESE CAT, OUR LADY, and OEDIPAL. Oh, and DROID clued as the [iPhone competitor] I use.
- 34d. Yay, URUGUAY! You’re the [First Latin American country to nationally legalize same-sex civil unions].
Learning experiences for me:
- 45d. J-ROCK is a [Slangy subgenre for bands like X Japan, Dragon Ash and Luna Sea].
- 19d. [“Blee ___ Blues” (Count Basie song)] is missing its BLOP, which is a word I have never encountered inside a crossword or outside of it.
- 2d. [Calgary neighborhood that’s not quite where the Fresh Prince moved] is BEL AIRE, which is not the same as Bel Air. Hey, Jeffrey, is Bel Aire famous in Canada?
- 32a. ATENO is lackluster fill. You could go with “A TEN O’clock scholar,” cluing it with a fill-in-the-blank with an awkward apostrophe. Or go all out with the palindrome approach: [“Lisa Bonet ___ basil” (palindrome)], needing ATE NO. If you like crosswords, you might also enjoy palindrome wordplay, eh? Gutsy clue for a lame answer.
- 29d. More Canada? Where can I report the hoser who made this crossword? YTV is a [Canadian children’s network] that’s the Bel Aire equivalent of Kids WB.
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Geology 101”—Evad’s review
Very smooth Tuesday offering from constructor Doug Peterson in today’s CrosSynergy/WaPo puzzle. Three theme phrases end with something you might study in a “Geology 101” class:
- “Aids to advancment” are STEPPING STONES. Here, the “stones” are pretty close to their original meaning, I think of a stone path leading upward. In fact, below is a picture from our trip to New Zealand last year where we hiked the Milford Track.
- Next up is “Breakfast brand since 1971” FRUITY PEBBLES. I wanted COCOA PEBBLES first. (I guess there are a lot of versions of the Post cereal.) Here, the “pebbles” are more removed from their original meaning–they are little packets of sugar in the shape of pebbles.
- Finally, we have “The Jazz Singer soundtrack hit for Neil Diamond,” LOVE ON THE ROCKS. The “rocks” here could mean the metaphorical rocks that a ship might crash against or the ice in that drink you’re holding right now as you read this commentary.
I smiled to see Chuck NORRIS in my puzzle today–was it BEQ who recently ran a puzzle with feats Chuck could accomplish that boggle the mind? Leave your favorite in the comment section below. [Edited to add: the top-rated joke here is: Chuck Norris does not wear a condom. Because there is no such thing as protection from Chuck Norris.] Also liked the informal OH DEAR ME and I’M COOL, but could do without seeing FROGLEGS by RATHOLES.
I don’t remember “Grasshopper” in “The Karate Kid”, either. Googling karate kid grasshopper turns up a lot of forum pages where people ask where Grasshopper is from. Answer is always “Kung Fu”. Hmm.
You don’t say, Spork. But hey, I guess there’s no difference between Japanese and Chinese martial arts, or the movies or TV shows centered on them.
Yeah, I think that may be a rare clue error in the Times. “Grasshopper” is indeed from Kung Fu. I don’t think it’s uttered at all in “Karate Kid”, unless maybe as a joke in a sequel.
Nice Times puzzle though!
Time to get back in the crossword commenting business after a two-week break. I was very impressed with the NYT grid and fill tonight…quite a fun solve for a Tuesday. But as the specifics have all been commented on appropriately, I’ll stop here and go back to watching that neon yellow Oregon footwear in tonight’s college football title game.
Pannonica, did you do the Sporcle quiz I added to Fiend today? It’s crosswordy!
Yes—actually I had done it earlier in the day. It is to crosswords what artificial vanilla extract is to real vanilla extract, which is not to say it’s all bad…
Just did the Jonesin’ (always forget that one on Mondays); in some sort of weird quantum prescience (see 52a), I’d filled in KFC for 8d/”Ozone layer pollutant” instead of PFC.
I liked the NYT fill a lot, finding it fairly easy but still interesting. The theme was fine, but I would have liked it more if it had been all cocktails made with the same drink (or at least all alcoholic – sorry, Shirley). I’m also not partial to clues that require an explanation (e.g., “___ Fogle, spokesman for Subway,” of “Up, as the ante”), but again, that’s a small quibble. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Best Jonesin’ in a long time. Timely, original. Loved it.
Don Gagliardo’s LAT is a masterpiece. The L bars formed by the ENTRIES are symmetrically placed to echo the L bars of the blocks creating a perfect double pinwheel. Add to that the abundant EL words, including the sly LBJ, and we have a wonderfully complex tapestry, highly unusual for a Tuesday.
If this isn’t five stars, what is?
The Kids of BEL AIRE is a huge hit on YTV in Canada.
(I wonder how many of you believe me).
Could the clue for grasshopper be meant as just a generic term of endearment that we Westerners think older Asians use when addressing children? Poorly constructed to be sure but maybe not an outright error. I’m just sayin…
Merely to pick the obligatory nit in the NYT puzzle: Isn’t 33D [Typist’s speed: Abbr.] rather like saying that a car’s speed is mph. Doesn’t one just crave to know how many?
I see where you’re coming from, but there’s dictionary support and common usage for “speed” at work here, using it as “rate of motion”. Substitute that second (noun) definition and it’s a solid clue. Wpm and mph are both measurements of rates of speed.
Tip of the day… Be wary of clues and answers using secondary (or even deeper) definitions of words to mislead, confuse, or generally throw off your solving, and to squishify* your mental rhythm.
*Bonus tip: It’s easy to coin ridiculous new words, if you try. Often happens when forcing a wrong crossing letter into a word.
(Example: “OPALENT has to be a word. isn’t it? Like an opal? Sure.”)
Good point there, Daniel. We generally like to put a number in front of the unit, don’t we? But in defense of the clue, the definition of speed is (the absolute value of) the ratio of the distance covered to the time it took to cover it. Miles per hour, strictly speaking, would qualify as a measure of speed.
So, right, mathematically notated, |Δd/Δt| = speed or, a nod to Howard B., rate of motion. I can very well see a maths teacher standing in front of a blackboard intoning, “This equation will give you a motorist’s speed…..IF you know the distance travelled over a certain period of time.” But we don’t know either here! Howard B. would have something like this (if I understand aright): “A typist’s rate of putting words to paper equals words per minute.” which, granted, more or less works with the indefinite article, but not with the definite article. I would be fine with this clue if it were [A typist’s speed: Abbr.] There’s something about the omission of the indefinite article in common speech that cries for the exact rate. If one just writes “Typist’s speed” or “spacecraft’s speed,” somehow a specific rate is expected…. What a fun quibble this is! :-)
I must admit, I didn’t realize the French ate FROGLEGS. I thought that was only a Southern delicacy…
English, (of all kinds and dialects), for all its rules, is a frighteningly fun, fluid language. There are so many ways to interpret and misunderstand things, and even an innocent indefinite article can tweak one’s interpretation. Makes you stop and think – great stuff :).
I think the clue uses this as a standard style. You will never or rarely see a standardized puzzle clue written starting with ‘A’ for specificity, unless part of a phrase (“A pop”), or for a specific purpose of misdirection: ‘A’ used as a member of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, etc. Clues usually omit the article also to hide the part of speech of a clue word. “Purchase”, for example, instead of “A purchase”, of which the latter would give away a noun as opposed to a verb or other form. That’s the standard applied here.
By the way, currently reading Bill Bryson’s English: The Mother Tongue (I know its circa 1990-ish, but still holds up).
Daniel, you might also enjoy this – there are so many interesting bits of trivia on the history, usage, and quirks of English (and also language in general), it’s often a fascinating read.
Many thanks, Howard B. I just ordered the Bryson book from Amazon.
Hee hee, “one ‘L’ of a puzzle”!
If you can find it, Anthony Burgess’ A Mouthful of Air, also from the early 90s, is a great stoat of a book, covering similar ground to Bryson’s, though it’s—I, ah, daresay—more droll than glib.
Howard, so nice to see you haven’t forgotten about pig puns! Me, just sitting here thinking about Bambi….
Thanks you, thank you, thank you pannonica! I’m a great fan of Anthony Burgess and regard the Enderby novels as the very last syllable of recorded droll. How did this book manage to scoot its way under my figurative radar screen, I do wonder? It is a far, far better thing I do in buying it late than post mortem.
You’re very welcome, Daniel! I hope you enjoy it.
droll + glib = droog?
LOL, pannonica – Either that or perhaps – Burgessian neologism – draglip?