Friday, 2/11/11

NYT 4:37 


LAT 4:17 


CHE 3:36 


CS untimed 


WSJ 10:10 


Adam Cohen’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword answers 2/11/11 0211

This 72-word themeless is quite smooth but not too showy. I do like a little more sparkle than this, but it’s good for a Friday puzzle not to venture too far afield with challenging fill. (That’s Saturday’s bailiwick.)

My favorite clue is for 35a: [Group seen in late-night hours?]. The vowels in the phrase “late-night hours” are AEIOU, in order.

Did you think that Finnish word sounded like “baseball”? You’re right. 38a: FINNS is clued [Pesäpallo is their national sport], and it’s sometimes called “Finnish baseball.” You can read about it here.

Unfamiliar clue for 25d: OREO—[Onetime meringue-filled treats]. A little egg white and sugar? Sounds healthier than the modern-day Oreo!

Five more clues:

  • 42a. [They’re not allowed to travel] clues CAGERS, or basketball players.
  • 45a. Weird clue for SOYA: [Protein-rich seed]. “Seed”? Dictionary tells me the leguminous soybean plant (c’mon, nobody calls it SOYA in America other than crossword constructors!) is grown for its edible seeds, and that “soybean” is also the word for the plant’s fruit. So it’s a bean/seed/fruit all at once?
  • 59a. My favorite entry is STAR SYSTEM, [Old Hollywood’s method of promoting talent].
  • 10d. The ASIAN FLU was the [Cause of global panic in 1957]. Really? Before my time, sure, but I’d have thought I would know about a significant pandemic that hit the U.S. (70,000 deaths here). It killed about 2 million people worldwide. Dang!
  • 29d. [Taking credit?] when you buy something with a credit card is OWING.

Stephen Edward Anderson’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Who’s Who”

2/11/11 Chronicle of Higher Education crossword answers

I relished this puzzle. It’s like a Sporcle quiz full of things I don’t know, only with the assistance of those crossings so I can figure them all out. The only one I knew was [Who’s Josip Broz?], MARSHAL TITO. For the other five pseudonyms from history—WILLY BRANDT, LEON TROTSKY, RASPUTIN, MATA HARI, and PANCHO VILLA—I had to work through the Downs to fill in enough blanks that I could piece together the answers. Apparently I’m much better versed in author pseudonyms than historical ones. Thanks for a neat theme, SEA.

Is 30d: NOM [___ de guerre] tied to the theme?

Solid fill overall. Five favorite clues:

  • 31a. How often do we see the word burp in a crossword clue? [Seussian “king” undone by a burp] is YERTLE the Turtle.
  • 38a. [Loftily unengaged] is a cool clue for COOL.
  • 65a. The [Mayfly’s lifespan, at most] is DAYS. Interesting clue for a most ordinary word.
  • 43d. TATTOOS are [Unerasable pictures].
  • 46d. [Cornucopia’s contents] consist of the PLENTY in a horn of plenty.

Two real names I didn’t recognize:

  • 64a. Wait, what? Here’s my first name, AMY, but SEA is throwing us a clue I haven’t seen before. Who the heck is [“Democracy Now!” host Goodman]? Perusing her Wikipedia bio, I have no idea how it is that I’ve never heard of her. Any Chicago-area folks know if a local radio station carries her show?
  • 2d. [Portraitist John dubbed “The Cornish Wonder”] is a non-Andy Griffith Show, non-shock-jock OPIE.

27d. To [Rule despotically] is to OPPRESS. How timely.

Updated Friday morning:

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “For Openers”—Janie’s review

You know, this is the kind of theme we often see in CS puzzles—the set of theme phrases whose first word can precede a key word in the title—but it’s less often that we see it executed so well. What sets this one apart? First, there’s the punny title, which is not only a colloquial way of saying “first,” but can also be heard as “four ‘openers'”—which is what the theme set delivers. And what are they? There’s a bottle opener, an eye-opener (something revelatory…), a can opener and a letter opener. Then there’re the theme phrases themselves (and their cluing). Each one is lively and each one comes to us in the form “___ of ___.” Check ’em out:

  • 17A. BOTTLE OF WHISKEY [Top-shelf item at a bar]. Had you heard that term “top-shelf” before? It was new to me and I’d assumed it had to do with the literal placement of bottles on the shelves with regard to aesthetics/popularity. Well, yeah, sorta. But here’s a little primer on the expensive, name-brand liquor that’s called “top-shelf”—and its colleagues “well” and “call,” too.
  • 26A. EYE OF NEWT [Potion ingredient for a witch]. Need the rest of the recipe? Here ’tis. Caution advised.
  • 50A. CAN OF CORN [Easy catch, in baseball slang]. New slang term to me‚ but given the sports context, no great surprise there. Its colorful “easy catch”/grocery-store origins seem to be universally accepted, but the why of the “corn” component is more up for grabs. Here’s one man’s take. While we’re on the ball field, let’s not forget [2000 World Series MVP Derek] JETER, or that a BASE HIT can be a [Single, double or triple]. (Hmmm. Am wondering about the legitimacy of that “I CAN” [Volunteer’s words] in the grid, which repeats a critical word…)
  • 63A. LETTER OF TRANSIT [Sought-after travel document in “Casablanca”]. You haven’t seen it? It always shows up on TCM [Vintage film channel] (catch it on 2/14 at 10:00 P.M.). It’s a classic (deservedly) and continues to live on in crosswords.

Looks to me like there’s a cyber mini-theme with HOT SPOT [Place to log on] (think wi-fi), BTW [“What’s more…,” in a text message] and GOOGLE [Look up on the web]. Seeing google clued as a verb reminds me of an exchange I recently heard between two young women, which concluded with one saying to the other, “I’ll facebook you.” Knew it was only a matter of time…

Almost makes TELE [Start of communications?] seem kinda quaint, tied into a different generation entirely—one invoked with CROONER [Singer like Bing or Frank]. Crosby or Sinatra, each of whom was an EMINENT [Renowned] crooner in his day. Way back in the day.

But if you’re among the “wi-fi or die” crowd, don’t “RUB IT IN!” [“Go ahead, gloat!”] just yet. “The first ones now will later be last” is a truism for all generations.

James Sajdak’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword answers 2/11/11

I’ll give this D-PLUS theme at least a B+. An initial D gets added to the theme entries’ first words—and in the fourth theme answer, the D is also added to a repeat of the first word.

  • 17a. [Soundly defeat by cheating?] clues DRUB THE WRONG WAY.
  • 25a. [Gloomy Cuban?] is a DOUR MAN IN HAVANA. I don’t know what “Our Man in Havana” refers to, but I’ve heard the phrase before.
  • 46a. [Discerning pub competitor?] is a DART CONNOISSEUR. Not an easy word to spell, that.
  • 59a. [What loving couples exchange?] are DEAR-TO-DEAR GRINS.

Four 15-letter theme entries does tend to constrain the fill. While there are some goodies, we also have crosswordese (HODS = 1d: [Mortar carriers]; STYE), two vowel-rich tribes (OTOE, ERIES), the ATRA razor, and some foreign words (SANTE, ARME, TE AMO).


  • 1a. [Part of the deal] evokes “The Art of the Deal” but is pointing toward a HAND in a card game.
  • 5a. [Little pieces, idiomatically] clues DRABS, part of “dribs and drabs.” I wouldn’t like this answer if its letters weren’t echoed shortly thereafter by DRUB.
  • 65a. [Unite after a break, in a way] is a KNIT clue that relates to healing of broken bones.
  • 4d. [Unsettled one?] who hasn’t settled their debts is a DEBTOR.
  • 9d. The second appearance of SWOOSH in a crossword today—the other’s in the Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle.
  • 24d. [Talking Heads song “Sax and __”] VIOLINS, an instrumental pun on “sex and violence.”
  • 26d. [Met tragedy, perhaps?] is an OPERA at the Met.

Francis Heaney and Patrick Blindauer’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “All Aquiver”

Wall Street Journal crossword answers 2/11/11 "All Aquiver"

The Wall Street Journal is prepping for Valentine’s Day with a CUPID-themed crossword. Given the byline, you know something impressive is in store, some sort of unusual and difficult-to-construct twist. What does CUPID (at 58d) use to to his matchmaking? A BOW and ARROW. In each of the theme entries, there’s a rebus square that’s filled with BOW going Across and ARROW going Down. Adding to the difficulty, the rebus squares aren’t found in a symmetrical set of answers, so you’re on edge throughout the whole puzzle. From top to bottom:

  • 4a/4d. {BOW} LEGS, the mystifying {ARROW} COLLAR MAN—[Dapper advertising mascot of the early 20th century].
  • 92a/14d. AL {BOW}LLY is much less famous here than CAPTAIN JACK SP{ARROW}. [Superstar British crooner of the 1930s]? Really? It’s possible to spell a name “Bowlly”?
  • 115a/110d. CLARA {BOW}, H{ARROW}ING.
  • 125a/50d. SUN {BOW}L, CHILLED TO THE M{ARROW}. Ooh, I like 50d.
  • 126a/57d. {BOW}TIE, William Carlos Williams’ THE RED WHEELB{ARROW}. Oooh, that’s good. Great little poem. You gotta love the Shyamalanesque twist when suddenly it’s all about chickens.
  • 127a/79d. RAIN{BOW}, CLARENCE D{ARROW} for the defense. These long {ARROW} answers are terrific, aren’t they?

Lots of long fill has found its way into this grid, too. OSCAR MAYER, ROLL-YOUR-OWN, SEAN ASTIN and ALAN BATES, an ESCAPE POD and LASER BEAM? Awesome, all of them.

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27 Responses to Friday, 2/11/11

  1. pannonica says:

    Democracy Now! in Illinois, courtesy of the internet.

  2. Spencer says:

    i knew there was a flu in 1957, because it gave me potential immunity (or at least resistance) to H1N1, even though I was but a tyke of 2 at the time.

  3. Matt says:

    Good puzzle with some challenging fill– I erred at the intersection of TEE and ELIE– had an N rather than an E, and never suspected that it was wrong.

  4. Bob Blake says:

    I wanted Hollywood’s old method of promoting talent to be the CASTING COUCH but couldn’t get it to fit.

  5. ePeterso2 says:

    Another hand up for N instead of E at TEES/ELIE … seems a smidgen unfair if you know enough about Sweden to know that ELIN is a common name there and don’t know enough about fashion to know that Elie Saab is actually Lebanese, not Swedish (thank you, Wiklqpedia).

    Even if I had that right, I still had a DNF – how are we here in Florida supposed to know tactical hockey terminology?

    Good stuff otherwise.

  6. kent brody says:

    Could not believe ALIG was the right answer……..

  7. Jeffrey says:

    @ePeterso2: You do have 2 NHL teams…

  8. ePeterso2 says:

    @CC – And one of those two teams plays in an arena that I can see from the window of the building in which I work. Hockey in Florida just seems … unnatural.

  9. Howard B says:

    DEKE is your go-to bailout answer when faced with a 4-letter hockey term. The only other way to clue it I know of is the astronaut Slayton, so the details of what it actually entails are unimportant. It’s worth trying in the grid. (And your odds of it working in the grid are much better than the odds of it working against your hockey opponent).

    @eP: Nice – Check out a game sometime for me :). Sounds like the best of both worlds, especially for the players involved.

  10. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I learned DEKE from Byron Walden’s ACPT B finals puzzle in ’05. The clue was [Ice feint], and boy, I had no idea what that meant. I thought it was some sort of ice/geologic term, like a crevasse in a glacier. Hockey? Whatever.

  11. Martin says:

    Today’s Newsday blooper: a “Patriotic org.” is CAR. I would have been concerned that the DAR went unisex and became the “Children of the American Revolution,” but I was spared because of the cross-ref clue that made a COUPE a kind of CAR.

    C’mon folks. If you’re gonna improve the fill, change the clues too.

  12. Martin says:

    What’s with the moderation?

  13. joon says:

    our man in havana is a novel by graham greene, which was also turned into a movie (i think greene wrote the screenplay himself?). it sounds like a spy movie but it’s actually about a vacuum salesman… but then it turns out it’s actually a spy movie.

    martin, i’m sure somebody noticed that changing DUE/DAR to CUE/CAR would indeed be an improvement in the fill. unfortunately, DUE is actually part of the theme and couldn’t be changed. ugh.

  14. Howard B says:

    @Amy: That’s great – it does sound like a mountaineering term, doesn’t it? “While ascending the arete, my piton slipped from the deke of an ice feint, dropping me facefirst into the crevasse. Wanna see the scar?”

  15. Andrew Ries says:

    Hell of a WSJ puzzle today…way to go Francis and Patrick!

  16. Alex says:

    Today’s Newsday blooper: a “Patriotic org.” is CAR. I would have been concerned that the DAR went uni*** and became the “Children of the American Revolution,” but I was spared because of the cross-ref clue that made a COUPE a kind of CAR.

    C’mon folks. If you’re gonna improve the fill, change the clues too.

    It’s worse than that! Crossing CAR/DAR is CUE/DUE — which is part of the theme! Someone decided to change a theme entry to make for cleaner fill.

    EDIT: Dangit, Joon beat me to it.

  17. Amy Reynaldo says:

    O. M. G! Just did the Newsday puzzle. Well, most of it. Enough to have the theme and see that the word CUE doesn’t belong there at all. Hello?!? People at Newsday, focus! That’s more of a USA Today crossword error.

  18. Meem says:

    Glad Amy had a chance to do the WSJ. I thought it was stunning. To come up with Sun {Bow}l and h{arrow}ing is real construction genius. And the non-theme fill also sparkled. Roll your own; in an instant. Whew!

    With the exception of Newsday, it was a good run of puzzles. Agree that sussing out the names in CHE was a good exercise.

  19. Zulema says:

    OH!!!! ALI G! Couldn’t parse it. I had to look it up, since no one thought it worthwhile to explain. My loss?

  20. Jeffrey says:

    If I was still blogging the (awesome!) WSJ, I would have linked to ABC’ s Poison Arrow. And then I would have mentioned my favourite misheard lyric from ABC’s When Smokey Sings. The line is “When Smokey Sings, I Hear Violins”. I grew up thinking it was “When Smokey Sings, I Fear Violence.”

    But I’m not so I can’t mention any of this.

  21. pannonica says:

    Yes, Our Man in Havana is a wonderful and satiric film, novel and screenplay both by Graham Greene. Directed by Carol Reed (The Third Man, Oliver! and many others), with (among others) Alec Guinness, Noël Coward, Maureen O’Hara, Burl Ives, and the great Ernie Kovacs. After it was filmed but before it was released, Castro overthrew Batista and they had to place an note in the opening credits explaining that the events took place before the revolution.

    Whoops, I’ve just learned something new. Wapedia™ research says that filming began two months after the coup and Castro himself even visited the set!

    In any case, I recommend the book and the movie.

    addendum: Wanted to mention that Greene and Reed previously collaborated on The Third Man, but in that case the screenplay was written first and the novel adapted thence.

  22. john farmer says:

    Another Carol Reed-Graham Greene collaboration, their first, is The Fallen Idol, a very good film with Ralph Richardson. (Reed had a helluva run at the end of the 40s, with Odd Man Out, Fallen Idol, Third Man. He won the first three BAFTAs for Best British Film.)

    Maybe the Newsday was supposed to be a themeless? TODAY’S CROSSWORD THEME CANCELED CUE [sic] TO UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES.

  23. Martin says:

    Yep, I noted the CUE TO UNFORSEEN CIRCUMSTANCES problem too but my post was not complete. Maybe these bloopers are an elaborate copy protection scheme.

  24. Meem says:

    Given life on the world stage today, cue to unforeseen circumstances may not be so far off base! News anchors and headline writers have been scrambling.

  25. ArtLvr says:

    I found the NYT A LITTLE BIT easier than yesterday, but DWELT on it quite a while. I think my FAVE was ORANGE TREE clued as Navel base, where I ASKED myself if there is a longer answer than Abdomen?

    Also in the SE corner was CONGAS crossing CAGERS with clever clues, as well as the NOME home of the Mugget, oops — Nugget. The Mugget was the Wasilla Winker…

    Despite ABIE, which required crosses to be sure it wasn’t ROSE there, I didn’t find the whole too dated. I did get JETER after JAY, but wondered how long KALE or Scratch have been substitutes for lettuce, money. Or GLITTERATI either?

    Who was it who said “All that is gold doesn’t glitter, nor do all who roam not know where they are going?” Thanks to Adam Cohen for an interesting Friday!

    The WSJ was wonderful fun…Highly recommnd to anyone who hasn’t done it yet!

    Totally frustrated at my disappearing post at Rex’s site. Hope this goes through okay?

  26. John Haber says:

    The SE rubbed me the wrong way because Tally was strange to me and I still have no clue what dangle or deke mean (not that the Shakespeare quote, which could also have been “hast” or “twas” was helpful). I puzzled for a while over TENS, not knowing or even suspecting ELIN (rather than perhaps Elio or Elia). I can’t pin down why the answer doesn’t feel idiomatic to me, but it doesn’t. I know change for 20 is two 10s.

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