Thursday, 3/17/11

NYT 6:19 


Fireball 5:45 


LAT 6:53 (Neville) 


CS untimed 


BEQ 9:51 (SethG) 


Happy St. Patrick’s Day! And Happy Looming ACPT Weekend, to those of you who celebrate it. Me, I like to make a four-day holiday out of it now. My Metrocard is ready for reloading, my transit map is packed, and I am ready for an NYC vacation! Wait, what? I have to do some sort of crossword races? My. That’s certainly an odd way to pass the time!

Anna Shechtman’s New York Times crossword

3/17/11 NYT crossword solution 0317

Hello, Greek letter rebus! I like you. The theme is “IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME,” and each corner of the puzzle has its own rebus square containing a Greek letter (or the letters of its English name spelled out). Aptly, the first two are ALPHA (ALPHABET SONGS, ORAL PHASE) and BETA (B.E.T. AWARD, TIBETAN MONK). Man, those BETA crossings are great together! Down below, there’s a mid-alphabet PI in WHOOPI Goldberg and LIGHT PINK and, aptly for the final corner, the last letter in the Greek alphabet. OMEGA hides in a HOME GAME and an INCOME GAP.

Highlights in the fill include MALLOMAR, SPORK, and STREETCAR. Had they been clued as a single unit, TRAMP and STAMP would have brough Onion/BEQ-style zing, but I don’t at all mind that they’re clued separately. For the lowlights, we have NOBIS, SETAE, plural SUSANS, partial AT TEN.

Favorite clue: The wily mislead at 1a: [Kind of column]. Neither IONIC nor DORIC will fit, plus IONIA appears elsewhere. OP-ED won’t work with the S in SETAE, but the O and E are perfect fits for the real answer, the ONES column in arithmetic.

Alan Arbesfeld’s Fireball crossword, “Celebrity Cover-Up”

Fireball 2(9) answers

Oh, yay! I like this Arbesfeld offering so much better than yesterday’s NYT. The theme is great—famous people (not all “celebrities” per se) get single letters added to the front of their first and last names. The funniest-sounding one is GAMY MADAMS for Amy Adams; it makes the theme worthwhile. Al Roker turns into a GAL BROKER. Earl “Fatha” Hines becomes the short sentence PEARL SHINES. SHARPER GLEE has zero connection to the TV musical (yay!). And Eli Roth and Tom Ridge get pronunciation shifts when they become DELI BROTH and ATOM FRIDGE. (Sheesh, can we get some atom fridges at the Fukushima reactors?)

Favorite clue and answer:

  • 1a. [One who’s slow to pick things up?] is a wonderful clue for SLOB.
  • 4d. BUGBEARS is a great word.

Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Neville’s review

3/17/11 LA Times crossword answers

Whoa – we’ve got a clue-within-a-puzzle thing going on here. Very meta. Here are our four LIFTs:

  • 45a. BOOST IN SPIRITS (The spirits do flow on St. Patrick’s Day!)

It’s like the standard “they all have the same clue” theme, but it’s hidden from you at first. I’ll admit it – I skipped to the LIFT at the bottom of the puzzle to help me out.

Three Xs in the puzzle, and IXNAY is my favorite X entry.

Five clues:

  • 43a. [Legal-sized fish] is a KEEPER. I was thinking this would be a type of fish.
  • 25d. [What might be used when a bomb is hurled on a field?] is a PIGSKIN. Football – should’ve seen that coming.
  • 4d. [Nick at ___] – that’s Nick at NITE, the former “Place for TV Hits.” I miss when they ran Laverne & Shirley and Family Ties, but now I have The Hub for that. One TV network goes out the window, but another comes in.
  • 47d. [Digital dots] are PIXELS, not anything fingerprint related.
  • 24d. [Honeybunch] is SWEETIE. I really wanted this to be SUGAR PIE, which doesn’t fit. You know, like the song by The Four Tops.

Good luck to everyone coming to Brooklyn for the ACPT – say hello if you see me! (I’ll be the one wearing clothes. Can’t be more specific at this point.)

Updated Thursday morning:

Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Hot to Trot”—Janie’s review

“Erin go …” Oh, never mind. CS looks to have done their St. Paddy’s tribute last month (Ray Hamel’s “Luck of the Irish” on 2/21). Still, for the anti-wearing-of-the-green, you couldn’t do better than spending some time with Doug’s puzzle, where the “H” in familiar base-phrases is converted to “TR” and hilarity ensues. Okay. Maybe not “hilarity”—but some seriously smile-worthy items. See for yourself as:

  • 20A. talking head → TALKING TREAD [Having a debate about tires?]. A major activity in Akron at one time, I imagine…
  • 33A. Capitol Hill → CAPITOL TRILL [Warble heard in the Senate?]. Could be that trill was produced at an arts hearing in chambers when the senators were treated to an ARIA [“Salome” selection]. Or perhaps they heard a bit of OTELLO [Verdi opera based on a Shakespeare play] in which IAGO [Shakespearean manipulator] factors in once again as the heavy.
  • 41A. prickly heat → PRICKLY TREAT [Candied cactus, e.g.?]. Ouch! Even more dangerous than yesterday’s [Thorny bouquet] of ROSES, I fear. Still—one funny/visceral concept. And the pièce de résistance
  • 57A. “I’m only human” → “I’M ONLY TRUMAN” [“Don’t expect me to be like Roosevelt”?]. Once again, Doug hits the trifecta of the perfect base-phrase/theme-phrase/clue combo. This one’s a real gem and whaddaya think? Maybe the seed-fill for the theme?

There’s strong non-theme fill and cluing GALORE [In abundance] as well, by way of YOGA MAT [Surface for stretchers] (those “stretchers” are people, not people-carriers); KRAMDEN [Ralph or Alice of “The Honeymooners”] (I love how that prickly pair peels off of the “K” in prickly treat); BEAN DIP [Serving with tortilla chips]; and for its four-letter consonant cluster, ELM TREE [Hardwood source]. Those triple 6-columns NW and SE also give us ARCTIC [Bitterly cold], the much warmer ITALIA [Roma’s land], the Brooklyn-born MILANO [Actress Alyssa], SIMILE [Literary comparison] and PONDER [Weigh, in a way].

You know, I may have been premature in dismissing this puzzle’s 3/17-ness. After all, there’s JIG clued as [St. Patrick’s Day dance]. And RABBLE [Disorderly crowd]—which is the scene at many a parade and bar today. In addition to downing green beer, some folks making the bar scene might use the occasion to knock back a MOJITO [Cocktail often garnished with mint leaves] or two. And (in keeping with the day [sorta]), maybe even a green tea mojito

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Say What?”—SethG’s review

BEQ answers 3/17/11

And so we start ACPT week. Amy’s off in New York, and so is everyone else. Prepare for a hefty dose of SethG this weekend.

BEQ starts it off by letting us know Tyler Hinman’s apparently-not-so-secret master plan to regain his title as our, uh, King? What’s our title for the most crossworthy crossworder again?

Before he does that, he’s got to get past some people. So here’s what he’s gonna do. (Come closer, so I can whisper.) First, Section 180, Bribery–he’s gonna pay off the cops to (18a.) BOOK Dan FEYER, probably while he’s at the book fair. Next, time to get serious, he’s gonna go Section 125 and hire a hitperson to be a (24a.) Trip PAYNE KILLER. Possibly with an overdose of pain killers? (See, he’s committing punny crimes!)

Now, time to call in the big guns. Section 260, he’s gonna nefariously lure some of his competition to an island so he can get away with calling her (34a., 44a.) THE Anne ERDMANN OF ALCATRAZ. Finally, Section 27, he’ll violate some leash laws and send (53a., 64a.) Howard BARKIN UP THE WRONG TREE.

And if he can do all that whilst fending off Al, Amy, Ellen, Francis, Jeffery, Kiran, and Stella, his plan just might work. Good luck young man!

Some other clues:

  • Twin long musical stuff with (11d.) [2000 #1 hit by Destiny’s Child] for SAY MY NAME and (33d.) [Service run by the band They Might Be Giants that was nothing more than their answering machine], which I maybe called maybe once, DIAL A SONG. Destiny’s Child is also a band, in case you didn’t get that.
  • (57d.) THE PO crosses (70a.) E. A. POE. And the police are the po-po, The Police are also a band, and (30d.) [Mr. Orange’s confession at the end of “Reservoir Dogs”] was I’M A COP.
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20 Responses to Thursday, 3/17/11

  1. twangster says:

    Is anyone else having trouble accessing the puzzle on line?

  2. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I didn’t, twangster, but others have. I don’t know if using a different browser might help, or if the issue is arising from the NYT and nothing you do will make a difference. Susan H. got on with her laptop but not the computer she usually solves on.

  3. ArtLvr says:

    Great sneaky rebus work, in that the special squares are few — not to mention GREEK letters spelled out! The subtlety was escaping me until I hit the SW where WHOO__ had to be WHOO PI… From there the few holes I’d left earlier were happily and quickly filled. Kudos to Anna!

    As for Alan’s Fireball, I got that one all finished without help too, but the odd phrases still puzzled me. If I’d studied it a bit longer, I might have seen EARL HINES and HARPER LEE, and possibly AL ROKER, but the rest of the names aren’t familiar. Oh, well…

    Have a ball, all who travel to the tournament! I’m sorry to miss the chance of seeing xword fans in person, even more so since my posts to Rex’s blog continue to disappear and no one seems able to help me find the problem!

  4. Tuning Spork says:

    Aah, so that’s why I couldn’t get Mr. Happy Pencil. I had OP-ED for [Kind of column]. POBIS and DETAE looked as reasonable as any Latin/Greek word does. **sigh**

  5. Deb Amlen says:

    I’ve posted a link on Wordplay for those who are having trouble accessing the puzzle.

    You can also find it here:

    Major hat tip to Jim Horne for providing the link.

  6. joon says:

    i had trouble downloading the puzzle, but when i hit stop and then refresh i got it just fine.

  7. John E says:

    Ha! I was just doing a book of NYT puzzles, and I came across this same “Greek letter” concept in a puzzle by Peter Gordon.

  8. HH says:

    My newest rule for crossword solving — Scan the clues. If you see one that lists/references all the theme answers, turn the page.

  9. sps says:

    Loved the Fireball and, as for today’s NYT, I had the theme figured out within seconds but the two bottom corners had me stuck for ages upon ages. I thought I was gonna cream this puzzle and instead it creamed me…

  10. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I am very regretful that I will not be seeing any of you this weekend. I had hoped that “more mature reflection” (to quote the Honorable Justice Scalia) would allow me to overcome my prejudicial distaste for the Brooklyn venue but I made other concrete plans for the weekend which I knew I would come to rue. rurururu.

    Best Wishes to all, and have a wonderful time. Perhaps next year I’ll attend.


    PS I loved PB1’s NYT Spoonerism puzzle and found it quite difficult. I didn’t find any lewdness, but then, it’s everywhere if you know how to look for it. :-)

  11. Matt says:


    I couldn’t get the crossword online until I logged in (again) to the NYT site. Sometimes the NYT site seems to need an additional login, even though it shows you as logged in. Go figure.

  12. Howard B says:

    I had a data-entry slipup on the Omega square; I was trying to enter multiple letters in there and messed up the whole area somehow. Took a while to realize where my typo was and to then correct it.
    TRAMP/PAD was the toughest area as I didn’t really understand the clue for TRAMP.
    Well done, Anna!

  13. John Haber says:

    Thanks for the link. I couldn’t get access either. I triple checked that I accept all Times cookies, logged off, cleared the cache, deleted the cookie, exited the browser, and all to no avail. It let me log in, but then immediately sent me to the page inviting me to purchase premium access. The top right of the page still showed me as having logged in with my correct id.

  14. Daniel Myers says:

    I don’t know if this will help anyone w/ problems accessing the NYT puzzle – It worked fine fo me today – but I had John Haber’s problem for days several months ago. What I had to do was switch browsers from IE8 to Chrome when accessing the puzzle, which worked smashingly. I’m by no means a techie, but it has something to do w/ the way in which Chrome processes Java/Javascript as opposed to IE8.

  15. Karen says:

    I can’t get the NYT on my Dell computer/Firefox browser at work. I can get it at home on my Mac/Firefox browser, or at work on Dell/IExplorer…
    I took a really long time to find the rebuses on the NYT today.

  16. Lois says:

    Dear Amy,

    Please fix the NYT constructor’s name in the heading. I believe it is Shechtman, and that it is correct on Rex’s blog, not at the NYT blog (misspelled differently by Deb). I’m running so I can’t do a thorough check, nor figure out how to write you privately. You don’t have to post this note.

  17. HumbleRookie says:

    Loved today’s NYT by Anna Shectman. I’ve come to enojy the rebus puzzles immensely, a big step from last year, when I barely knew what one was. I’ve seen a lot of improvement in my solving skills over the last year, due in large part to my following this blog. Oh, and a bit of practice….

    Best of luck to all at the ACPT this weekend! I’ll be there, and I’d love to meet more of you this year. So if you see a middle-aged blonde lady wandering around with glazed eyes, fixed smile, and perhaps a bit of drool on the chin, please come up and say hi.

    Safe travels to NYC and happy solving!


  18. John Haber says:

    Daniel, no way. I already avoid IE like the plague. (I’m in Firefox.) I almost went to it as a recourse, though.

    It’s only going to get worse, now that they’ve announced that they’re limiting access to online articles except to subscribers. I’ll lay you any odds you like that this will cause trouble for those who have paid for access to crosswords. I got the email from them today, in fact, announcing it and with a link for subscribers to register. Since I subscribe to the weekend papers, I went to it, and sure enough it got me an error message, inviting me to email for help. The “email” link then returned me to the previous registration page instead.

    To make things even better, I notice that the page for puzzles suggests that the Java applet (which I don’t use) works better in Netscape Navigator than in Chrome. Of course, guess what happened to Netscape.

  19. Daniel Myers says:


    Yes, I received the same e-mail. I didn’t bother myself trying the links as they said they would send another e-mail on March 28, incept date of their “freemium” model, as I believe it is known in the trade. In any event, Chrome worked for me when I had your problem; just trying to help, you know.

  20. John Haber says:

    Since we all love crosswords, I know I won’t get support for this, but this is what I just had to write to the NYT contact info. I told them I posted the following on Facebook and every other blog I follow: “I don’t merely urge you not to pay for the new policy of access to the Times online. If you have a subscription, I urge you to cancel it. As part of the move, if I go to an article, the screen is blank, and the tab in Firefox is labeled ‘NY Times Advertisement.’ If they place advertisers above both subscribers (like me) and other readers, they deserve neither.”

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