Thursday, 1/13/11

NYT 4:50 


LAT 5:30 (Jeffrey) 


Tausig untimed 


CS untimed 


BEQ untimed 


Elizabeth Gorski’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution 1/13/11 0113

The theme entries bop back and forth between beginning and ending with words that are anagrams of the letters EILN:

  • 17a. [1944 mystery play by Agatha Christie] clues MURDER ON THE NILE. I know what you’re saying! You’re saying, “What the hey? It’s Death on the Nile, everyone knows that.” Me, too. I looked it up: The 1930s novel is Death, and the 1944 stage adaptation is MURDER. I have never heard of the play version.
  • 21a. [Spouse in 2009 headlines] is a rather broad clue, is it not? ELIN NORDEGREN used to be married to Tiger Woods. You’ve been waiting, maybe, for a constructor to figure out a way to make good use of the name ELIN before it becomes a footnote in pop culture history. This is it.
  • 37a. TAX LIEN. Sounds dull to me but if you’ve got one of these on your house, it’s probably stressful.

I had one of those near-deadly jumbles in the left center of the grid. I was all set to come here and grumble about the patent unfairness of that oddball musical clue for OLEO—OLEO! Of all things!—when a faint memory niggled in the back of my mind. Last spring, Liz Gorski devoted an entire Crossword City blog post to the jazz standard “Oleo.” I can’t say I wasn’t warned. I can, however, say that I forgot the lesson. Liz clues OLEO as a 30a: [Miles Davis jazz number]. Better than a margarine clue, but definitely not easy for me!

I don’t watch Dancing With the Stars, so I wasn’t sure what the scoring range was. Apparently 30d: [Awful “Dancing With the Stars” scores] would be ONES. I was also stuck on 36a: [Certain Buddhist], which turned out to be a NUN. And then 31d could be lots of things, couldn’t it? [Blockhead] clues LUNK, but having just the NK in place, I was paddling clumsily in the big kids’ pool. LUNK is not the first 4-letter word meaning blockhead that comes to mind. DOLT, DODO, DOPE, SIMP, TWIT? Sure. And a more common **NK person is a FINK.

Toughest clue (if you’re not a classical musician like Liz):

  • 27a. [Nickname of Schumann’s Symphony No. 3] is RHENISH. Really and truly? I have never heard of this, either. I don’t think I usually encounter so many unknowns in a Thursday puzzle. Musical types probably whizzed through this puzzle—Stella Daily Zawistowski sure did, at 2:49. (She sings in a choir.)

The word I most enjoy using:

  • 1a. GUFF, clued here as [Bunk]. I prefer the word’s “insolent” bent to the “worthless” sense. “Don’t give me any guff, child.”

John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jeffrey’s review

LA Times crossword answers 1/13/11

Theme: 15A./17A. [Illusionist’s act, and this puzzle’s title] – MAGIC TRANSFORMATIONS. Anagramming cries by magicians

Theme answers:

  • 26A./28A [“Presenting: Info!”] – TADA DATA
  • 47A/49A. [“Presenting: Instrument!”] – VOILA VIOLA. Joon, tell me a VIOLA joke.
  • 56A/57A. [ “Presenting: Wall hanging!”] – PRESTO POSTER

On the cutting-room floor:

  • [“Presenting: Canadian hairstyle!”] – LO AND BEHOLD LA BLOND DO EH

One-line review for those in a hurry: Lampkin uses left-right symmetry to conjure enchanted illusion.

Other stuff:

  • 14A. [Corny state?] – IOWA
  • 34A. [Waste time, with “around”] – MUCK. I had _UCK and you don’t want to know what I was thinking.
  • 38A. [Louvre Pyramid architect] – PEI. A famous Prince Edward Island landmark.
  • 39A. [Aptly named lab apparatus] – BELL JAR. Named after Alexander Graham Jar.
  • 42A. [’80s-’90s entertainment combo] – TV- VCR. Those were great times for consonants.
  • 65A. [Clinton Cabinet member Shalala] – DONNA. She headed the department of doo-wop.
  • 1D. [George Harrison played one in “Norwegian Wood“] – SITAR
  • 10D. [Dorothy Parker forte] – EPIGRAM. Don’t put epigraf.
  • 18D. [Day’s “will be”] – SERA. Doris.
  • 24D. [Pop singer Brickell] – EDIE
  • 27D. [From dawn to dusk] – ALL DAY. Not Doris.
  • 28D. [Illusion of familiarity] – DEJA VU. Didn’t I just see DAY-JA?
  • 30D. [Part of R&D: Abbr.] – DEV. SRED is a Canadian tax credit – Scientific Research and Experimental Development. You are welcome, constructors.
  • 31D. [Distributes, as the loot] – DIVVIES UP. Divides Up is too close.
  • 54D. [Sixth-day Christmas gift] – GEESE. Christmas is over and I’ve still got six GEESE running around. You couldn’t get me an iPod?
  • 62D. [You’ve just reached it] – END. Yes, you have!

Updated Thursday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Not a Newspaper”—Janie’s review

Randy takes us back to the school yard and and the reminder of some elementary school-type wordplay humor. Though this puzzle supplies answers that are literal and not pun-based (like the one referred to in the title), it’s never too soon to get the funny bone connected to the language bone (so to speak…). A riddle presented in two parts sandwiches two responses. So:

  • 20A. and 49A. [First part of a riddle, following “What is…?”] and [Second part of the riddle] yield
  • 25A. and 44A. [A possible answer to the riddle] and [Another possible answer to the riddle] yield (the visuals)

Today’s riddle derives from the classic: “What is black and white and read all over?” (That, of course, would be the newspaper…)

So much lively fill in this grid, too, which builds nicely on the kinda corny theme fill. There’s a strong, positive feel to the symmetrically placed “YES, WE DO!” and “SURE CAN” clued as [Answer to “Take credit cards?”] and [“No problem”]. Along with this pair, I also like the conversational “I GOOFED” [“My bad“] (fill that ties in naturally with FLUB [Mess up]). We get a rhyming symmetrically-placed pair with ÉCLAIR and HOT AIR, with their “fill”-filled clues,[Cream-filled dessert] and [It fills a wind bag].

And PLACEBO [Part of many a drug test]. Have you heard the latest results? People in a drug study were told they were receiving a placebo and still reported an improvement in their symptoms. In fact, some reported that their symptoms returned after they’d completed the placebo regimen. Go figger!

I like EXCITE and its clue [Juice up]. Ditto the cross of OMEGA [The end to the Greeks?] and (at the “G”) MEGA [Phone introduction?]. Fess up. Who else entered TELE first?

Not keen on seeing both NILE and KLUM [Heidi on the runway] again today, but was grateful that Nile at least got a fresh clue in [Shade of green]. (Also, yesterday EYES, today EYED [Spotted]… And so it goes.)

In searching for an image of a bashful penguin, came across this one that references not only that fill but also SNO[-cone]. Who’da thunk?

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “MIT Hunt”

BEQ crossword answers "MIT Hunt"

See how easy Brendan makes it? He puts the rebus right in the title of the puzzle. This weekend is the annual puzzle event called the MIT Hunt, and six squares in this crossword contain a squished-in MIT. 25d: EM{MIT}T S{MIT}H is a particularly nice example, no? There is not a single questionable rebus entry, which stands in contrast to the recent NYT HALF rebus puzzle that had one or two iffyish entries.

Brendan extends the grid to 16 rows tall to accommodate his rebus entries. Hey, did you just put an M in the rebus squares, or fit MIT in there? Because 47a would appear to be LEARNER SPERM if you went with the M. Speaking of words you don’t really expect to see in the daily newspaper crossword, we’ve also got DAM{MIT} and a URINAL. Just read a Tribune article about a suburban Chicago bar called Mullets that had a picture of Saved By the Bell‘s Slater above a urinal in the john. One patron was so angered by Slater, he tore the picture off the wall and shattered the frame. And this happened in 2011. True story!

Some of the shorter fill in this puzzle smacks of repeaters or crosswordese (your pluralized AGUES and ETNAS, your ENOS and ESAU, abbrev ANAT, and your OTOE ARETE ENE ENS OMOO). Offsetting those are MUCHACHO, NEOPHYTE, and the terrific theme/rebus entries.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “G Movie Edits”

Ink Well crossword answers "G Movie Edits" Ben Tausig

Ben transforms assorted movie titles by changing a hard G into a K sound, fixing the spelling as needed, and cluing the resulting phrase as if it were a movie, too:

  • 18a. In Ulee’s Gold, honey is Ulee’s “gold.” [Film in which Peter Fonda sneezes a lot?] is ULEE’S COLD.
  • 20a. [Film in which Mark Wahlberg runs an after-hours betting parlor?] is BOOKIE NIGHTS, which is likely to be far less NC-17 than Boogie Nights—which was rated R anyway.
  • 37a, 57a. [Film in which George Clooney and Ewan McGregor play quality control employees at a garment factory?] clues THE MEN WHO / STARE AT COATS. This is a somewhat more sensible title than The Men Who Stare at Goats.
  • 60a. [Emile Hirsch film about the best place to load and unload boats?] clues ALPHA DOCK, playing on Alpha Dog. That’s an indie that played at Sundance the same year Wordplay did, and it introduced Justin Timberlake as an actor to watch.

All right, this theme works. It’s not too easy, because Ben likes his solvers to have to work for it. How do you like those corners with the 7- and 8-letter answers>

Five more clues:

  • 14a. [Proposal starter, under Robert’s Rules of Order] is “I MOVE,” as in “I move that we adjourn this meeting.” “I second the motion.” “Me three.” “The motion is carried.”
  • 34a. [“I’m gonna be King of Pride Rock” speaker] is SIMBA from The Lion King. (Ooh, another theme entry: THE LION KINK.) My first thought here was gay pride, not a lion pride.
  • 64a. [Common promotion deal, for short] is BOGO. Buy one, get one (free). Is there a bastardized acronym for “buy one, get the second at half off”? BOGTSAHO?
  • 2d. [Egyptian pyramid builder who became a god] clues IMHOTEP. Also famous from The Mummy. Remember the good old days, when leaders could declare themselves gods?
  • 21d. [Son of Harriette and Carl Winslow] is EDDIE. Wait, was that the clue when I test-solved this puzzle? I don’t know these names at all. Googling…From Family Matters. The Winslows started as the focus of the show and then the neighbor kid, Urkel, took over. Never watched the show.

Favorite entries:

  • HEADCASE. I couldn’t tell you why it’s clued by way of Manny Ramirez because I don’t follow baseball closely enough for that.
  • LET’S SEE. Super-common letters, not hard to work into a crossword puzzle, but familiar and colloquial.
  • BEAVIS. Still a classic character.
  • COYOTES, clued as what presumably ate Ben’s grandparents’ cat. Now, that’s fresh cluing!
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27 Responses to Thursday, 1/13/11

  1. Jim Horne says:

    I’m not sure I quite understand Liz’s theme, but here’s what I put in my JNote in XWord Info:

    “Each of the first four theme answers goes over the LINE. The first of each pair ends with an anagram of LINE and the second begins with its margana (that same anagram reversed.)”

    I presume those pairings are not coincidence, and it’s what is meant by going (back) over the line. I may still be missing something. Theories?

  2. cyberdiva says:

    Interesting what one knows and doesn’t. I got RHENISH pretty quickly. However, even after filling in all the letters for “Spouse in 2009 headlines,” I didn’t have any idea where the names divided. Indeed, I thought “what a strange way to spell ELINNOR, and who in the world is ELINNOR DEGREN?” Oh well….

  3. Howard B says:

    Wow – pop culture chasm here. I had _no idea_ who ELIN NORDEGREN was. No idea at all. I knew the Tiger Woods story, but that name rang no bell, and in fact I spent some time checking for a typo. Now I realize where I’ve seen that first name before, but never the last name.
    Also RHENISH. Yipes. Quite a challenge; Ms. Gorski, you’ve exposed my weaknesses nicely today :).

  4. sbmanion says:

    I really don’t like the adjective CONSERVATIVE in the context of BLACKJACK. I think a play is either right or wrong. If you do not hit 16 against a dealer 7, I think your decision is wrong rather than conservative. There are a few coin flip or close to con flip situations, so I suppose the play of standing on 16 against a 10 could be conservative in the Martin scorebook of finding one situation where the clue works, but I stand by my decision.

    There are conservative plays in blackjack, but they usually don’t include stay.


  5. Gareth says:

    NYT: Surprisingly Tuesday theme for a Thursday! Seemed like the ulterior motive of the theme was in fact to drop ELINNORDEGREN (whose name is frikking hard to spell!) into a puzzle? I too remembered Liz’s blogpost, but only after I had 3 crossers, before then not a hope! I think I remember her dropping a hint for another one of her puzzles before on her blog, as if you needed another reason to read it… (Actually she also telegraphed ELIN in another post!) Aside: NYC subways are driving me mad! Any tips? The list I have is now: BMT, IND, IRT, LEX, MTA. Alphabet soup!

  6. imsdave says:

    Circles yesterday. Left/right symmetry today. Do you think Mr. Norris is setting us up for a (dare I say it) rebus?

  7. janie says:

    >NYC subways are driving me mad! Any tips?

    come to the acpt and experience the joys of the m(etropolitan) t(ransit) a(uthority) first hand! this may not be as outlandish an idea as you think, as rookie of the year and c division purses could help offset expenses. and you’d be a shoo-in for competitor who’d traveled farthest!

    okay, i jest. but it looks like you already have a good handle on the subway hieroglyphics!


  8. Jan (danjan) says:

    I was surprised SETH Rogen was clued in the CS in reference to Knocked Up, and not the Green Hornet. The latter would have been more timely.

  9. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Jan, they could be doing Rogen a favor. Roger Ebert says “The Green Hornet” is an almost unendurable demonstration of a movie with nothing to be about. … Seth Rogen deserves much of the blame. He co-wrote the screenplay, giving himself way too many words, and then hurls them tirelessly at us at a modified shout.

  10. Meem says:

    Again today, nearly nonstop solve for NYT. I like Jim Horne’s thought. From the top: NILE/ELIN; LIEN/NEIL.

    And more anagrams in LAT. I liked the grid and the fact that the anagrams increased from four to five to six letters.

  11. Sparky says:

    @Gareth. I thought the clue was poor. The three subway lines are BMT, IRT, and IND. MTA is the whole system incluing buses, shuttles, whatever. And Lex is just short for Lexington which is one route on the Ease Side IRT. Do come to the ACPT per Janie and enjoy the ride .

  12. Sparky says:

    @Gareth. I thought the clue was poor. The three subway lines are BMT, IRT, and IND. MTA is the whole system incluing buses, shuttles, whatever. And Lex is just short for Lexington which is one route on the East Side IRT. Do come to the ACPT per Janie and enjoy the ride .

  13. miguel says:

    From my mispent youth and the musical Hair…

    LBJ took the IRT
    Down to 4th Street USA
    When he got there
    What did he see?
    The youth of America on LSD

  14. Dan F says:

    Jim, I think you’re reading too much into the theme. The answers alternate from first word to last word, which is the most elegant way to do it if they’re not all first or all last, and the reversals are a coincidence. Sometimes a Thursday is just a Tuesday with an obscure-ish theme answer and harder fill… :) But I could be wrong!

    Despite not having heard of RHENISH, I had my fastest NYT Thursday time, due in part to remembering Liz’s blog posts…

  15. Martin says:


    Every time you take the subway, you use a Metrocard, with MTA emblazoned across the top. That would seem to make the clue fine.

    I wonder how long it will be before even native New Yorkers have no idea that the 6 is an IRT or the A an IND? Try asking a Brooklynite about the Sea Beach express. I think concious awareness of the BMT was the first to go. It’s sad, but the MTA has all but abolished those designations. After all, it’s been a long time since the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, Independent Subway System and Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation were separate and competing businesses.

    Ah, for the days of wicker seats and ceiling fans. Those were subways.

  16. john farmer says:

    Ouch. Don’t do the CS puzzle soon after reading this story in your morning paper.,0,6193488.story

  17. Ladel says:

    The NYC subway system is like the most difficult foreign language you ever tried to learn, only those born in it really ever understand it, all the rest are doomed to translating. Native to the system, I can tell you I never think in terms of the lines family name, just the letter or number of a train, it’s direction for me, and where I might have to change to complete my trip. Given my druthers, I would stay on the surface.

    @Gareth: horn vs antler a bit of a stretch?

  18. John Haber says:

    Gareth, the MTA is an agency independent of New York City, with board members appointed by the governor of New York State with input from various counties outside the city. Besides the city buses and subways, it runs commuter trains (Long Island Rail Road into Pennsylvania Station and Metro-North into Grand Central Station), as well as bridges and tunnels. It’s always underfunded by the state, as those upstate hate paying for mass transit, especially when it serves the city.

    “Lex” quite apart from the subways is New York-speak for Lexington Avenue. You might hear someone in my family say he lives between Park and Lex. You may or may not hear the subway running north and south on the East Side called the Lex as well. (I rarely if ever say that.) It actually runs under Lexington Avenue for only part of its way.

    The IRT, IND, and BMT are the original subway systems that merged long, long ago under government control. (Not the first or last time that private enterprise couldn’t do the job.) The number 6 train (the Lex) would have been the “East Side IRT” to someone my age, but the three-letter designations are fading over time. Perhaps only crosswords are keeping them alive. Younger people are more and more likely just to refer to individual train lines by their letter or number.

    Count me as someone puzzled by what I thought was ELINNOR DEGREN, as well as ready to complain about the puzzle’s inconsistency when other entries had the anagram as a separate name or word! (I thought I was a Miles fan but didn’t recall OLEO either.)

  19. Daniel Myers says:

    Just, you know, to be a pain, I’ll briefly point out that – historically speaking – a VASSAL is NOT a SERF (44A NYT), as anyone familiar with European history will know.

    Vassal = A tenant in fee, or one holding lands on conditions of homage and allegiance.

    Serf = One attached to the soil (adscriptus glebae, to revert to medieval law) for life.

    Many vassals were rich men and large landowners (i.e., serf-owners).

    Of course, in common parlance, both terms are more or less equally denigratory. But don’t try explaining this lack of modern distinction to a history teacher!

  20. Harry says:

    I normally hate rebus puzzles, but when done by Brendan, they’re okay. I love his puzzles, because they push the li(mit)s of “G”-ratings. One of the highlights of the week are his two contributions!

  21. pannonica says:

    horn vs antler a bit of a stretch? (Ladel)

    Yes. Unequivocally. They are very different structures. To describe it most simply, antlers are deciduous, being shed in their entirety annually, whereas horns* have a bony core integral to the skull (and are not shed at all). Obviously, there are plenty of other differences but I see no need to pontificate.

    *I’m referring to the horns of antelope and their ilk, not those of rhinoceroses, giraffes, et al., which are each something else yet again.

  22. John Papini says:

    Oleo is a jazz classic from the bebop era. It is unfair to anyone who isn’t an avid follower of jazz. Just like Schumann’s Symph. #3’s nickname, Rhenish, is probably only known classical musicians and students. Is rhenish a nick name like nebish?

  23. Ladel says:


    Thanx for that, niecely educational without being too too much.

  24. Martin says:

    The justification for the antler/horn clue is not anatomical, but lexical. Most dictionaries either list antler as a meaning of “horn,” or as a kind of horn (“deciduous horn”). In other words, while it’s incorrect to call anything but the deciduous appendage of a member of the deer family an antler, it’s valid usage to call an antler a horn.

  25. Ladel says:


    I remember the wicker seats, ceiling fans, odd wattage bulbs with left-hand threads to prevent theft, and I especially remember and miss the conductors from the Old Sod. But, I must say, the techno whizz bangs we ride in today a tad more comfy in the summer, if sadly, as you point out, they are sterile.

    I’ll never see a horny antlered buck in the rut, in the same light, after today’s anatomical lesson. Thank you all.

  26. Gareth says:

    Thanks for the skinny on NYC subways… I guess google could’ve told me all that, but I suspect you guys did a better job!

    So completely impossible in terms of finance and time to go to the ACPT this year…

  27. Zulema says:

    Late to the party, but there might be other laggards visiting.

    John Papini,

    RHENISH refers to the Rhine, the inspiration for the symphony after Schumann came to work in Dusseldorf. But one needs’t be a classical musician or a student. Just a listener will do. And I hope I do not offend, but is that your real name? It is very close to Giovanni Papini. Are you a descendant? He was a great favorite in my young years.

    Last but not least at all, I particularly admired this puzzle for its total lack of question-marked clues. If I were a rater I would have given it 5 stars for that alone.

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