Sunday, 3/13/11

NYT 9:52 


Reagle 9:57 (Jeffrey) 


BG 12:17 (Sam) 


LAT 8:26 


CS 7:47 – 1 error (Evad) 


WaPo 4:49 


Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword, “Reverend Spooner, U.S.P.S.”

3/13/11 NYT crossword solution

Okay, I’m beat. Long day out, it’s late, I’m tired, and the sofa/SNL combo is calling to me. Ergo, super-short post on the NYT.

Theme: Spoonerized phrases spell out the missing bits of a tale about Reverend Spooner (the character who brought us Spoonerisms, where two words’ initial sounds are swapped), only he (or she) is working as a postal employee. Not that “filled with cheer” is a specifically postal-related phrase, but here it is anyway, spoonerized into CHILLED WITH FEAR.

The theme didn’t grab me too much, but it may be that I just wasn’t alert enough to care.

I see some lewd interpretations of a couple of the theme entries, but I leave it as an exercise for the reader to ponder that.

Updated Sunday morning:

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sunday Challenge”—Evad’s review

CrosSynergy 3/13 crossword answers

I always enjoy Lynn Lempel‘s themeless constructions, since she is able to take her estimable talents in solid early week themed grids and apply them to the more open areas of a themeless. Today was no exception, and I found this one offered very little resistance, except for one particular crossing which I guessed wrong.

Let’s start with the smooth stuff:


  • You gotta love the confidence of a constructor who puts in THING as the money entry at 1-Across. Can you get any more pedestrian?
  • Rare to see an entry of only 7 letters, 5 of which are consonants and one of the other two is a Y: PSYCHED. You onelook fans, are there others? I like shyster.
  • THE JIG’S UP is good, I think the non-contraction version of the phrase is more common, though.
  • [Presidential candidate who said, “I will offer a choice, not an echo”] was Barry GOLDWATER. A bit before my time; he lost to LBJ in 1964.
  • HOF clue for DAN: {Rather good at reports].
  • Cute clue for SATAN as well: [One in a hot spot?]. It don’t get any hotter than hell!
  • It’s hard to imagine Nick NOLTE being voted as People‘s “Sexiest Man Alive” anytime in the 90’s; in 1992, he was 51, which is what I will be next month, so there’s hope for me yet!
  • I haven’t read anything by Joyce Carol Oates (I started The Falls but abandoned it, unable to get into it). Her novel about Marilyn Monroe, BLONDE came out in 2000 and was a finalist for the National Book Award that year. She claims the novel is a work of fiction and shouldn’t be considered a biography of the screen legend.



I found the four triple stacks, other than the entries I mentioned, to be a bit low on the Scrabble point meter, and it was in one of these stacks in which I reached my Waterloo—I had DANG IT ALL for [“Darn!”], crossing a word I was not familiar with TROCDEE at the initial D. Well, there’s a reason I wasn’t familiar with TROCDEE, it’s not a word at all. Instead, a [Metrical foot] is a TROCHEE and the DANG should’ve been HANG. I see here, it’s pronounced TROH-kee and is from the Latin trochaeus (running). Ah well, hang it all!

Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “The Fashion Police” – Jeffrey’s Review

NOTE with puzzle: Today’s cautionary tale involves the Inspector, the Lieutenant, and the Designer.

Theme: A clothing-punned crime story. I have attempted to fill in the missing details. Don’t try this at home; I’m a trained accountant.

Scene one:

(Theme music playing)

Sirens blaring, a police car moves alongside a van filled with new clothing.

INSP: (Shouting) HEY PULL OVER! We’re the Fashion Police!

DESIGNER: (Confused) What’d I do, officers?

LIEUT: You STOLE A PEEK at a competitor’s designs.

DESIGNER: But I’m innocent!

LIEUT: Maybe so, but we have  A MATERIAL WITNESS. He says you’re  PART OF A RING .

DESIGNER: That’s not true!

INSP: Don’t worry. You’ll look good in STRIPES. Okay, lieutenant, SLAP THE BRACELETS ON HIM.

The scene fades out as the handcuffed Designer is led into the back of the police car, which then drives away.

Scene Two

One Week Later. The Lieutenant angrily bursts into the Inspector’s office.

LIEUT: What happened? I thought we had him!

INSP: He gave us THE SLIP. His attorney filed some LEGAL BRIEFS. (Pauses and sighs)  And then his SUIT WAS THROWN OUT.


INSP: Yeah, even if he was just AN ACCESSORY.

Fade to black. Credits roll.

Other stuff:

  • 1A. [Vacation isle] – BALI/59A. [African nation] – MALI. I want to see an all ALI puzzle.76A. [1970s pop-rock grp.] – ELO84A. [Olivia’s leading man, often] – ERROL. I loved them in “Grease“.8D. [Nighttime host] – DAVE. I watch it backwards, so to me it is EVAD.15D. [Catchy item, perhaps] – TUNE. It’s a Small World After All…50D. [Prynne’s symbol] – RED A. Scarlett, you might say.

    79D. [LP player] – HI FI. Ask your parents.

    83D. [Baseball’s Matty] – ALOU. I know what you are thinking. While Felipe was an Expos  manger and his son MOISES played for the Expos, Felipe’s brother Matty was never associated with the team. True, but the third brother Jesus, nearly played for the Expos. He was their 7th pick in the 1968 Expansion draft, but was traded to Houston before the season started.  Rusty “Le Grand Orange” Staub came to the Expos in that deal, where he went on to hit a lot of home runs and give me a now long-lost autograph. And that’s what you were thinking.

    93D. [Uncle Remus’s ___ Fox] – BRER. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

    107D. [A Cabinet Dept.] – HHS. One of you will tell me what this means.

    121D. [Be over with] – END. And my blogging is at an END for a little while. Next week in Brooklyn!

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Boston Globe crossword, “Talking About the Weather” – Sam Donaldson’s review

It may be close to spring, but this puzzle is still mired in winter.  Cox and Rathvon take five common phrases that relate to talking but clue them as comments related to winter weather, even though the phrases themselves normally have nothing to do with anything meteorological.  Sends chills down your spine just thinking about it, huh?  Here are the theme entries:

  • 23-Across: [“All snow is white” and “It covers everything”] are BLANKET STATEMENTS.  That is, they are not only all-encompassing propositions asserting premises without proof (blanket statements) but also statements about blankets of snow.  My favorite blankets are blanket denials, followed closely by slankets.
  • 38-Across: [“I’m speaking specifically of ice”] might be one interpretation of LET ME BE CRYSTAL CLEAR.  Speaking specifically is being clear, and here the speaker is being clear about crystals…of ice.
  • 61-Across: To [Keep saying “It’s not flurrying” when it is] is to TELL LITTLE WHITE LIES.  Here, the lies are about snow, the white stuff.
  • 79-Across: One who says [“Stop guesstimating the temperature!”] might also be saying STICK TO THE COLD FACTS.  I know this expression as “stick to the cold, hard facts.”   I dunno, are cold, soft facts easier to stick to than the hard ones? Regardless, props for using “guesstimates” in the clue–a favorite portmanteau.
  • 101-Across: [“And I think you know what I mean about snowblowing”] may be a wintry way of saying IF YOU CATCH MY DRIFT.

There’s only five theme entries, but three of them are 19 letters long and the other two are 17 letters long. The typical 21×21 grid might have eight to ten theme entries averaging around 10 letters in length, so in terms of total squares, this grid has average theme density. Still, for some reason this particular grid had a low theme density feel to it.

If you had told me at the start of the solve that I would post a time under 13 minutes, I would have been stoked.  And yet I’m a little disappointed because I was on pace to post a time under ten minutes (a personal best for a 21×21 grid) until I hit my personal train wreck in the southeast corner.  The confluence of COMOROS, the [Madagascar neighbor], [“The Elder” of Roman science] PLINY, and PIANOLAS, those [Self-playing keyboards], spelled disaster for me.  I tried PIANATAS (which turn out to be keyboards filled with candy) and then PIANETAS (which are maybe keyboards used by CIA officials).  It didn’t help that I stuck with AHA as my [Cry of discovery] when this grid wanted OHO.  (I’m thankful that IHI and UHU aren’t also triumphant shouts, as two choices is plenty.)

High Points: My favorite fill included BEAT IT, SCIMITAR, COWGIRL, and ROADEO, the [Truckers’ contest].  Thanks to blogging, this time I had no trouble with ITALO as the [Novel-writer Calvino].   I can also thank increased exposure to crosswords for IBSEN as the instant answer to [“Ghost” playright].  Little known fact: Ibsen wrote the part of Oda Mae Brown specifically with Whoopi Goldberg in mind.

Low Points: If you make me find something unappealing in the grid, I suppose I would point to ELOPEMENT, the [Thwarted lovers’ option]. It’s a perfectly legit word, of course, but almost always one hears the verb form and not the noun form.  The real low point, to be frank (even though my name is Sam), has nothing to do with the grid and everything to do with my own idiocy. I resisted ENG as the [H.S. course] only because I kept saying to myself, “They don’t teach engineering in high school!” Seriously.

Trouble spots: I avoided lots of quagmires through easy crosses. Looking back, though, there were some parts that could have been nasty. For instance, I don’t know FEMTO as a [Prefix for a quadrillionth], even though the prefix aptly states my chances for a trophy at the upcoming ACPT. KILIM is not a chant from an angry mob–it’s a [Turkish rug].  And the clue for BEETLES, [Coleoptera members], means nothing to me–it just looks like a mash-up of Cleopatra, Cole Porter, and opera. Let’s see the “Glee” kids tackle that one!

I did have a hard time (briefly) with SABOT, the [Shoe made of wood]–a pair of which sits to the right.  New to me is HARICOT, clued here as [Kidney bean, say].  My dictionary says the word refers to any edible pod of various beans, and sure enough it uses the kidney bean as its example.  Finally, I don’t get [What some dons do] as a clue for TEACH.  Someone please explain this in the comments so I can go ahead and slap myself on the forehead.

Jack McInturff’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “I Before E’s”

Sunday LA Times crossword answers 3/13/11

The theme entries take phrases with an I and change it to an EE:

  • 23a. [Meek Jolly Roger crewmen?] are PIRATE SHEEP (ship). Minus five points for the unchanged I in PIRATE.
  • 42a. [Polish protector?] clues SHEEN (shin) GUARD. Did you notice that it took a dreadful catasatrophe to dislodge Charlie Sheen from the daily news cycle?
  • 51a. [Red-costumed actor in “Veggie Tales”?] is a BEET (bit) PLAYER.
  • 59a. [Take really short catnaps during a Henny Youngman routine?] clues SLEEP (slip) BETWEEN THE CRACKS.
  • 76a. [Tiny nestling’s cry?] is a MICROCHEEP (microchip). Cute! But minus five points for the extra I in MICRO.
  • 88a. DEED (did) BATTLE could be an [Ownership dispute?].
  • 109a. [Meryl as a coquette?] turns striptease into STREEP TEASE. Hey, did I ever tell you how I feel about the word tease?
  • 16d. [Drug money?] clues EVIL GREEN (grin). Oh! Missed opportunity to get an EVIL TWEEN into the puzzle. Minus five for the EVIL I.
  • 74d. [Fund for hammer parts?] clues PEEN (pin) MONEY.

While [Pen name] is a decent mislead for 54d: BIC (making us think of pseudonyms rather than ballpoints), it’s too bad that there’s a PEN right nearby at 57d. I’d have clued the PEN as a pigpen or the state pen, or used a boring “ballpoint name” clue for BIC.

95a: VIOLENCE is clued as [R rating cause]. There’s an incredible amount of violence to be found in PG-13 movies, whereas the nonviolent The King’s Speech picked up an R rating because it used the F-word a few times, but not in anger. The MPAA must live in terror of parents who wig out because Junior was exposed to a cuss word (as if the kid doesn’t encounter the same word on the playground!) but really don’t care if Junior sees a slew of people getting gunned down or tortured.

The highlight of the fill is the nice stacked 9s in two corners.

Five clues:

  • 61d. [’60s Israeli prime minister] is ESHKOL. This name is not a frequent habitué of crosswords and I needed a lot of confirmatory crossings. Abba Eban, Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir, Ehud Barak—those shorter Israeli leader names get a lot more play in crosswords.
  • 11a. [Focus at a boxer’s school?] is OBEDIENCE. The dog, not the pugilist.
  • 97d. [Wikipedia policy] is NO ADS.
  • 56a. [Swedish city connected by a bridge to Copenhagen] is MALMO. If you don’t know the city name and you don’t know crosswordese STELE, you might not have gotten that L.
  • 37a/37d. Nice pairing—[Old strings] are LYRES and a LUTE.

Karen Tracey’s Washington Post crossword, “Post Puzzler No. 49”

Washington Post Puzzler No. 49 crossword answers

Hey! Karen Tracey! I was just talking about you yesterday. I attended my niece’s high-school Group Interpretation theatrical competition, wherein teams provide a dramatic interpretation of literature without sets and props. A rival team performed Hilary and Jackie, so now I know much more about JACQUELINE DU PRE than I did a couple years ago when that answer killed me in one of Karen’s puzzles.

I don’t recall seeing a Karen Tracey grid anchored by 15s before. This one’s got stacked pairs of 15s bolted together by the vertical URSULA K. LEGUIN. There are more blah short answers and abbreviations than I’m used to in Karen’s puzzles, which are typically super-clean. And one of the 15s is kinda blah—ACTIVE INTERESTS doesn’t sing the way CHIHUAHUA, MEXICO and FANTASTIC VOYAGE and LIZA WITH A “Z” do. Overall, lots of Scrabbly fill, as is Karen’s wont.

Ten clues:

  • 8a. [Town with a legend about disappearing children] is HAMELIN, of Pied Piper fame.
  • 36a. PIKES are [Pole weapons]. Who doesn’t love looking at those fearsome medieval weapons?
  • 48a. [Moroccan seaside resort city] is AGADIR. Makes me think of Hank Azaria’s unforgettable Birdcage character, Agador Spartacus.
  • 53a. [SVU part] is UNIT, as in “Special Victims Unit.” I had UTIL., having misread it as [SUV part].
  • 62a. I’D SAY SO. [“Sounds right to me”]. Terrific colloquial expression.
  • 5d. Some AUSSIES are [Victorians, e.g.] in that they live in the Australian state of Victoria.
  • 7d. [Cosa Nostra] is a term for THE MOB. Great “the __” answer.
  • 13d. ICE-T is/was a [Member of the band Body Count]? I had no idea.
  • 26d. FREE AGENTS? Oh, [They can sign with anyone].
  • 50d. [Magazine with the slogan “Where travel can take you”] is AFAR. I have never heard of this magazine.
This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Sunday, 3/13/11

  1. Jeff says:

    Well, that was a pumb duzzle.

  2. donald says:

    Lewd is in the mind of the prude…

  3. ArtLvr says:

    One of my fastest Sundays! Knowing what to look for made it easier than usual, and produced many smiles along the way. I’m especially grateful that the smoothness was enhanced by lack of jumping around to find parts of answers relating to others, e.g. IRENE and ADLER could have been clued together in Sherlockian context, but weren’t!

  4. Jan (danjan) says:

    28A: I thought my neighbors were in the HORSEY set, not HORSY.

  5. Jeffrey says:

    The Spoonerisms didn’t make me smile, which doomed the NYT for me.

    CS- I had a D there as well. DANG!

  6. Tuning Spork says:

    LOL at the LAT 109-Across. Heads are going to explode. :-D

  7. Meem says:

    Two thumbs up from me for the NYT. I think Spoonerisms are fun and this was a clever story.

  8. Angela says:

    I always believed Sartre received the Nobel Prize for his body of work, not for just one book, Nausea. Have I been wrong all these years? It’s been a lot of years since I studied French literature in college and if I’m wrong about this, then my French lit professor at NYU got it wrong!

    Fun puzzle anyway.

  9. Matt says:

    Fun puzzle, I agree, though I got mired in the SW– combination of DIMMEST/DENSEST, COLAS/COKES, and thinking TAJ or RAJ for the three-letter Vegas casino, though knowing that was wrong. Also had INA instead of ING for the one-sharp key at 7D– no excuse for that except that my music-playing days are distant and dim. The INA error was combined with a persistent misreading of the crossing clue as MARRYINTHEKALE, some sort of neuro-linguistic blind spot, I suppose.

  10. John E says:

    @Angela, that’s what I thought as well re: Sartre. Here’s a link to the Nobel Prize for Literature website which lists nine authors who were awarded the prize for a specific literary work (none of which is Sartre)

  11. Tuning Spork says:

    Angela and John E, it seems you are correct. “Nausea” was published in 1938 and Sartre was awarded the Nobel in 1964. All he had written around that time were some essays and his autobiography. The Nobel site states that he was awarded the prize “for his work”, but no specific opus.

  12. Erik says:

    HHS = health and human services. Got it from the crosses, never heard it abbreviated that way.

    I put NOEXIT where NAUSEA should have been. That cost me about five minutes.

  13. Meem says:

    Sam D.: Professors at the University of Oxford are known informally as dons. Hence, dons teach. I’m listening for the head slap!

  14. Sam Donaldson says:

    [SLAP]. Ouch!

    In fairness, Professors at the University of Washington are known informally as hotties, not dons.

  15. Zulema says:

    So it won’t go without mention in the comments, loved the Wapo.

  16. Howard B says:

    Zulema, you beat me to it by several hours. WaPo was my favorite of the day; that was pretty challenging (not as much as some WaPos, but still crunchy), without being too frustrating. Interesting, quirky (I love quirky!) and overall fun.

  17. I Before E says:

    Given my nom du blog, I feel obligated to comment on the LAT. It was fun and I thought the theme answers read a lot like Merle Reagle puns. I did it while watching the March Madness activity on TV with a mix of pride (I am a Duke grad) and consternation (I am Colorado resident) but that meant putting my glasses on and off; so I misread 28A as “Some really slow winners”. That made that area the last to fall.

  18. HH says:

    Re the last NYT theme entry — On days when I’m expecting bills, that’s not a spoonerism.

  19. John Haber says:

    I was going to object that Nobel prizes in literature are awarded only for a career, which shows what I know, although John E is right to note that Sartre isn’t listed among those mentioned as largely on account of a single work. While that could be because he declined the award, if you follow the link further up to him among the two who declined, the brief citation (perhaps only an excerpt) from the award to him sure makes it sound like it wasn’t for a single work.

    But no, Tuning Spork, by 1964 he’d produced a huge body of literature and had little more in his last few years. By 1950 he’d written at least four other novels, including Le Mur (The Wall) and the three novels in an epic trilogy. I like all four. He’d also written many plays, which of course are literature, and his philosophical writing isn’t devoid of literary panache either!

  20. John Haber says:

    I was biased to like the puzzle because I like spoonerisms. The SW did catch me, too, though, for much the same reasons. (But besides “dimmest” for DENSEST, I also thought first of “dullest.”)

Comments are closed.